ARMAGEDDON (A CHRISTMAS PLAY), Buckorog Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Some say the world will end by fire, others by ice. But having seen Darren Critz’s Armageddon (A Christmas Play), I know that the universe will be destroyed by boredom. My personal universe at least was destroyed by the time Critz’s overwritten 130-minute late-night show finally ended at 1:10 AM. By that time Critz, who also directs, had subjected an audience of mildly enthusiastic friends (and me) to many, many stage cliches–money-mad producers, foolish mortals eager to sell their souls–enmeshed in a twisty plot as slow as it was predictable. The only surprising element was Critz’s assessment of his audience: he devotes a good ten minutes to the revelation that the dapper gentleman with a golden voice and suitcase full of money is really the devil.

The sad thing is that there’s an interesting horror story here, but it’s hidden under layers and layers of bad writing: undeveloped characters, infuriatingly inconsequential dialogue, scenes that just go on too long. Critz could easily cut an hour, and his play would be the better for it.

Most of the actors, who will appear in better shows someday, never rise above the abysmal material. Only Jon Marco turns in a passably entertaining performance as a lovable nebbish devil who, for reasons that are not clear, decides to thwart the efforts of his fellow evil one. –Jack Helbig