‘Epitaph’ meditates on love, loss | AspenTimes.com

‘Epitaph’ meditates on love, loss

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Staff Writer

When the most desirable woman in the world dies, it is sure to set off some sparks among those she has left behind

It sure does in “Epitaph,” a two-person performance that is a featured show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (today at 6:30 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. in the St. Regis courtyard).

Georgia ” “the most extraordinary person you’d ever meet,” according to “Epitaph” co-writer and co-star Ethan Sandler ” has already passed away. The play opens at her funeral, where two male friends argue over who loved her more and who was more loved by her. The argument spins out of control.

“It leads them to a very dark place,” said Sandler, who stars as Warren, with his co-writer and co-star, Adrian Wenner, in the role of Corey. “By losing her, they realize they have to accept much greater loss. Without her, they’re both left to face themselves.”

Sandler said there is more than a little blackness to his comedy.

“The comedy comes from how deep into a hole these two men go, realizing they had a love that could never be returned,” he said. “There’s a competitive aspect to them, because we’ve all experienced that: Who’s known her longer, who’s known her better?”

Sandler and Wenner, both 30, know each other extremely well. At Northwestern University, the two appeared in “Hamlet” together, and both moved on to “The Meow Show,” an improv comedy revue at Northwestern. They then went in opposite directions ” Sandler to New York, Wenner to Los Angeles ” after leaving college. But when Sandler moved to L.A. last year, the two quickly reconnected.

Contemplating a play they could write together for themselves, their thoughts turned to another college friend who was still in New York. Inspired by their friend’s absence, they got the idea to write a play about someone who isn’t there. (In “Epitaph,” Georgia is revealed only in the phone messages she left behind.)

Sandler said he and Wenner use their familiarity with each other to good effect.

“We do things that people who don’t know each other that well couldn’t,” said Sandler, who was featured in “Bitter Noah,” an improvised movie, at the 1997 USCAF. “I know if I throw a chair, he’ll catch it.”

[Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com]