An über-macho 20something and his not-nearly-so-manly former schoolmate find themselves possibly the only two people left alive on earth in Dead Boys, Matthew Scott Montgomery’s funny, touching, romantic, edge-of-your-seat hour-long look at racism, homophobia, and the apocalypse now.

Levi (Montgomery) has been hiding out all by his lonesome down in the basement of his onetime high school since right after “everything started” a couple weeks ago, which is why he couldn’t be happier this afternoon to have run into Carter (Andrew Puente) on one of his forays out.

Not that Carter seems all that overjoyed, even safe from the danger lurking after sundown when “they” come out.

Indeed, despite Levi’s effusive welcome (he tells Carter not to worry because there’s light and electricity during the day), his former classmate seems every bit as gruff and ill-mannered as he must have been back in their school days.

Carter virtually inhales the lone Twinkie Levi has been saving, guzzles down the last of today’s water ration, and when Levi lets slip that he’s got a bottle of whisky saved for emergencies, well if anything is a fucking emergency this is.

Not surprisingly, once Carter has started imbibing gulps of the dark gold liquid, Levi finds himself joining in, and equally unsurprisingly, secrets get revealed, relationships forged, and neither blue-eyed gay boy nor the Latino who once turned his life into a living hell will be quite the same ever again.

Breathing new life into the Breakfast Club formula, Montgomery’s script keeps you guessing (what exactly has happened to the world as Levi and Carter knew it?), keeps you laughing (Levi’s word vomit is a hoot), keeps you rooting for its mismatched protagonists (could these two possibly actually end up bonding?), and might just have you reaching for a Kleenex or two.

Electrifyingly directed by its writer-star, whose performance in Del Shores’ Yellow won him just about every award in the book a half-dozen years back, Dead Boys showcases the uniquely brilliant Montgomery at his irresistibly quirky best. (Montgomery’s wordless reactions alone are worth the price of admission.)

As for his costar, Puente reveals himself far more than just the boy-next-door song-and-dance charmer of Chance Theater’s Dogfight and Claudio Quest but an actor of power, depth, and heart, and just wait till Carter recounts a childhood memory en español that will have you tearing up whether you understand it or not.

Add another quarter-hour or so to Dead Boys sixty-minutes-and-change running time and it could easily find itself in demand by intimate regional theaters all across the country.

In the meantime, with its minimal set (scattered pieces of furniture and props), on-and-off lighting, and just a couple of truly terrifying sound effects, Dead Boys is tailor-made to move from its Hollywood Fringe Festival origins to high schools where it deserves to be seen.

Whatever its future, triple-threat Montgomery has come up with a dazzler.

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The Other Space, 916 N. Formosa Ave., West Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
July 22, 2017


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