Who would kill off his central, fascinating character halfway through a play, particularly when that character is played by David Hyde Pierce, and even more so when he hadn't really figured out what do do when said character dies? A LIFE has an excellent first forty minutes, but what follows is a mess.
A LIFE begins with a half-hour monologue by Nate (Pierce) a middle-aged assistant editor who has been through a series of relationships with men that have ended badly. Nate has trouble with love. He tells us that when someone professor their love for him, he feels he no longer exists. He has an adoring best friend, Curtis (Brad Heberlee), but doesn't want to destroy the friendship by trying to turn it into love. He is filled with more philosophical doubts. When he realized that nothing he was taught was true, he sought truth in other ways, particularly through astrology. In other words, Nate is a complex, fascinating, screwed-up character. Once he dies of a heart attack, the play has lost his focus. Nate has experienced what many of us fear, dying alone in one's apartment not to be found for days. Devoted Curtis panics when Nate doesn't answer his calls and goes to he apartment to check. We then get a series of post-death scenes: Curtis with the medical examiners, two funeral home workers engaging in small talk while preparing Nate's corpse for the funeral, Curtis and Nate's sister at the funeral. Life goes on but the life of the play has effectively stopped. None of these scenes hold much interest because Nate is the only developed character. Heberlee does what he can with Curtis, but he hasn't been given enough to do. We have been given to reason to care about the other characters. A lot of money has been spent on relatively elaborate scene changes, but so what?
I am surprised Playwrights Horizons would accept such an unfinished play.