Can you imagine how much pain a person would have to be in to want to end his life? Anthony Montes, the writer of the new play Subway Suicide, does not have to imagine it because he lived through it. If you have never been is such a state of mind, it’s easy to dismiss suicide as an act of selfishness or even weakness. Montes’ wonderfully plotted play sheds light on the very real epidemic of suicide in the United States. According to the latest report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, every 13.3 minutes, someone in the country died by suicide that year.
Montes’ play has been mounted at various venues in Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to see it last Friday at the Sherry Theater in North Hollywood starring Montes as the character with the same name (Anthony) and Ciera Danielle as Rain, a name she has chosen to erase a childhood of neglect and sexual abuse. But wait. The play isn’t all Sturm und Drang. In fact, you’ll see little of the morose and desperate tone that usually accompanies stories about suicide. Subway Suicide is a romantic comedy.
The play opens as Anthony and Rain approach the same subway platform with the intention of jumping to their death. As the train approaches and neither one of them wants to be enmeshed in the other’s suicide, they argue over who arrived first, thwarting one another’s suicide attempt with the funny, but very real dilemma they are faced with now that they aren't dead. With nowhere to go, Rain feels Anthony has a responsibility to take her in until she “works up the courage” to kill herself again. Despondent at still being alive, Anthony relents to Rain’s overbearing demands if only to shut her up and allow him the peace to figure out how and when he too can leave this mortal coil.
The story we expect – that of the two falling in love and giving each other a reason to live – is not the story that unfolds. Thankfully, Subway Suicide does not fall into the same tropes of most romantic comedies. Instead, their impending suicides work as a ticking clock that mounts the tension and suspense, while illustrating the very real and valid conviction each character has for committing suicide. In the end, it is not love, but hope that keeps our couple alive, a strong message to others suffering from thoughts of suicide.
Montes and Danielle are currently adapting Subway Suicide into a film to reach a larger audience and help others. You can learn more about the film and future productions by visiting www.subwaysuicide.com.