Linus & Alora

Susannah Edwards and Nathan Cooper star in Single Carrot Theatre's production of "Linus & Alora." (Handout photo, Chris Hartlove / June 30, 2011)

Mortality is such a downer.

No wonder many of us are a perpetual state of denial about death — the approach taken by a young woman given nine months to live at the start of "Linus and Alora," the recent Andrew Irons play at Single Carrot Theatre.

The woman, Alora, takes it one step further than denial, actually — all the way into fantasy land. Gradually, and sometimes painfully, husband Linus agrees to join her there, confronting some tough issues of his own in the process.

Irons approaches a topic all too familiar from disease-movies-of-the-week and gives it enough freshness, enough surprise to create quite an absorbing experience. Alora is an intriguing character with an advanced creative streak; inspired by the ironic nine-month factor in her prognosis, the first thing she invents is a pregnancy.

Susannah Edwards is telling as Alora, deftly conveying the gentle soul behind the desperation. Nathan A. Cooper likewise does vivid work as the angst-ridden, vulnerable Linus.

Alora's imaginary brothers — she must have watched a lot of "The Three Stooges" as a kid — are portrayed with vocal and physical flourish by Kaveh Haerian (Neal), Nathan Fulton (Owen), and Mike Zemarel (Arthur). Jessica Garrett and Paul Wissman handle their multiple assignments deftly. Melissa Wimbish and David Kellam, as a spectral Cuban couple, move stylishly through the play.

The Single Carrot production, effectively directed and designed by Genevieve de Mahy, also features well-matched musicians and a colorful, folksy score, adding greatly to the production's atmospheric layering.

For the complete review, go to baltimoresun.com/dramaqueens. "Linus and Alora" runs through July 10 at Single Carrot Theatre, 120 W. North Ave. Call 443-844-9253 or go to singlecarrot.com.

Tim Smith