John Angell Grant’s “The Suicide Franchise” is a black comedy about a man who, for a fee, services and accommodates people who want to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. (This play has a special meaning for those of us who live in San Francisco, of course.) It’s an amusing idea, and “The Suicide Franchise” introduces us to several types who’ve decided to end it all and concludes with a touch of irony when one man (who had previously planned to jump) changes his mind, takes a job with the company, and starts to encourage other people to fling themselves into the Bay. I know this all sounds a bit macabre, but it’s really hilarious in performance. Dane Ince is very funny as the man who changes his mind, Charles Bouvier gets some hearty laughs as the franchise holder, Richard Harder is side-splitting as a gay man who hopes to get even with his lover through his suicide (“Suffer bitch!” he shrieks as he throws himself over the side) and Mary McKenna, C.J. Smith and John Paul (as a couple of ex-fraternity brothers), Olivia Holmes and Joan Hammes complete the cast. Kasey Arnold-Ince has directed the whole thing spiritedly and with an accurate sense of its zaniness.
–Dean Goodman, KEST Radio
The last and best work of the evening is John Angell Grant’s “The Suicide Franchise,” about a successful business designed to help people jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Director Kasey Arnold-Inc moves a brilliant cast through this black comedy masterpiece without a hitch. And when one of the prospective suicides is given a little push by the franchise owner, many of us felt torn between rushing the owner in indignation and laughing at the very gesture which highlighted a perfect black comedy.
–Bruce Feld, Artbeat
From the drama of war we get into the drama of people jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Only this time the subject matter is handled with a comedic touch.
“The Suicide Franchise” is pointedly funny, while at the same time hitting the raw nerves of people who contemplate hurling themselves over the world’s most famous bridge.
It is not a play easily described nor should it be. That takes away from its impact. But “Suicide Franchise” has to be seen to be appreciated for all the points it so vividly makes.
–Linda Boscono, Millbrae Sun