The colorful walls of the Tower Districtâ€™s Ashtree Studios displayed a variety of abstract art, dominated by a giant purple buttonâ€”hardly the place where one would expect to have a run-in with Death.
But there he was, a rotund fellow, decked out in black leather and raccoon-like eye makeup, conversing with a gray-wigged woman leaning on a cane.
â€œIf you want me to reap your soul,â€ he told her, â€œyouâ€™re going to have to die.â€
This was Grim D. Reaper, star of the Rogue Festivalâ€™s â€œChronicles of Death,â€ courtesy of The People Next Door Theatre Company, imparting nuggets of wisdom to characters desperate enough to be considering suicide.
â€œItâ€™s the only way out of my crappy life,â€ a young brunette said in a trembling voice, surrounded by the galleryâ€™s depictions of rubber duckies and owls.
â€œThis doesnâ€™t have anything to do with a guy, does it?â€ Grim D. asked.
Later on in the show, a skinny shirtless guy in a robe held a gun to his head, providing the nudity portion of the R-rated comedy.
â€œOnly a real dumbass would kill himself because he has a small dick,â€ the Reaper commented.
The final scene saw Death in a Hawaiian print shirt and shades, sitting down with an atheist pal for a generous helping of eggs and milk at the Limbo Diner.
His last words of the evening were brief. â€œYou have to grab life by the balls and then yank.â€
Celestine Thoren, a junior music composition major, chose to see â€œChronicles of Deathâ€ because it sounded different than some of the other Rogue acts.
â€œI went on the Rogue site looking for events that sounded interesting,â€ Thoren said. â€œI thought this show was pretty funny. It could have been better, but it could have been worse.â€
Mitchell Salt, who portrayed the guy in the robe, was especially pumped for this particular performance. â€œThis is my first time being a part of Rogue,â€ said the Fresno City freshman, â€œand itâ€™s also my first paid gig.â€
He also thought it was a smart idea to bare his chest for his audience. â€œNudity of any kind gets people in the door,â€ he said. â€œJust throw in some boobs, and here they come.â€