WINDY CITY TIMES
How the World Began
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 1803 times since Wed Sep 16, 2015
Playwright: Catherine Trieschmann. At: Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. Tickets: 773-334-7728; www.rivendelltheatre.com; $32-$35. Runs through: Oct. 10
The play's setting is a Kansas town rebuilding in the aftermath of a tornado leaving widespread destruction and seventeen dead in its path, but this is not another of the eyewitness-interview docudramas proliferating this season. Its protagonist is a pregnant-without-partners schoolmarm from New York, but hers will not be a tale of patrician breeders driven bugfeathers by hormones, nor that of pioneering feminists persecuted by intolerant ground-grippers, nor again that of sophisticated urbanites confronting first-world shock at rural customs. The dramatic action will include each of these elements, to be sure, as well as extensive discussions of evolution versus creationismbut that, too, is just to distract us.
The incident spurring the theological debate is a casual remark made by Susan Pierce, the science instructor in what remains of Plainview High School, regarding the origin of life in our universe. The recently orphaned Micah Staab interprets her word choice as dismissal of the Christian Bible's teachings on the subject. Despite the efforts of his harried teacher and his temporary guardian, former town postmaster Gene Dunkel, this contradiction continues to trouble the lad. Given the propensity of meteorological cataclysm for undermining the rationality that adults claim to possess, what began as a trivial ambiguity soon escalates to render commonplace occurrences weighty with ominous portent leading farther and farther from the source of Micah's spiritual malaise.
As audiences at last year's Hot Georgia Sunday discovered, Catherine Trieschmann is a playwright who knows and respects the cultural complexities of dwelling in regions dubbed "flyover territory" by coastal snobs. Under the direction of Keira Fromm, the cast of this Rivendell productionstorefront circuits favorites Keith Kupferer, Rebecca Spence and Curtis Edward Jackson, all barely recognizable in their middle-America dragexercise similar care in stripping their line-readings of behavioral quirks inclined to trigger laughter from high-rise hicks ( like us ).
The deliberate absence of overt clues pointing to the final revelation disclosing Trieschmann's intent allows us to succumb to the same mistakes as the well-meaning but clueless Susan and Gene, both so immersed in their own cosmological views that they neglect the teenager driven by paranoid narcissismas what teenager is not?to agonize over his complicity in calling down divine wrath upon his community, who can take no comfort in the reassurances of mentors oblivious to the nature of his self-alleged crime. Inhumanity being the worst of sins according to believers and secularists alike, we share blame for the suffering of young pilgrims imprisoned by their own ignorance.
This article shared 1803 times since Wed Sep 16, 2015
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