Times Record: You are your own obituary (Jan. 24, 2013)

PORTLAND

You only have so much time on this earth. And perhaps you’ve heard, the newspaper industry is dying.

So if you’re a young, rootless editor recently hired as an obituary clerk at a daily newspaper, there’s plenty of time to wallow in existential angst. Done well, an audience might even go through that drama with you.

Elizabeth Lardie’s production of “Temporary Living Arrangements” — based in part on her time serving as community editor at The Times Record — offers up one woman’s struggles with the ethereal burden of short lifespans, personal and professional.

On the screen behind her during the nearly two-hour repertory offering in the intimate Studio Theater at Portland Stage, Lardie crafts her own obit, each time delving into neuroses born of a crazy upbringing and industry. She interacts with fellow newspeople who are appropriately in various throes of denial regarding their professional demise, and she ruminates on the condition of her family, spread far and wide in various stages of sickness or death.

Only Lardie — who plays Oliver Avery Churchill, named for her dead father — seems capable of fathoming the gloom. Although, in Ezra — a newsroom supervisor and confidante of undetermined romantic interest, played by Matthew Delamater — she gains a repository to wonder about all the various data points of a life marked eventually by death.

Kerry Rasor makes a stellar showing as Avril Churchill — Oliver’s mother, who dances the night away despite terminal illness.

Lardie’s acting displays an astonishing emotional range that goes from hysterical to blissful in mere microseconds, while Delamater and Rasor provide steady performances as her closest allies.

Wrapped in a cozy repertory setting, “Temporary Living Arrangements” is an immersive entertainment that probes the ultimate fear and surmises, if not a happy ending — at least one that can be lived with temporarily.

OLIVER CHURCHILL, played by playwright Elizabeth Lardie and Ezra, played by Matthew Delamater, ruminate about life in Lardie’s “Temporary Living Arrangements,” a comedic exploration of death and mourning, in the Studio Theater at Portland Stage. BOB MENTZINGER / TIMES RECORD PHOTO

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