WINDY CITY TIMES
||Theater: Brutality of Fact
by Rick Reed
This article shared 2713 times since Wed Aug 4, 2004
Playwright: Keith Reddin
At: Eclipse at Victory Gardens,
2257 N. Lincoln
Phone: (773) 871-3000; $18-$22
Runs through: Sept. 5
If Keith Reddin were a lesser playwright, Brutality of Fact could be a Lifetime: Television for Women—kind of story. After all, it has the domestic drama trappings favored by the all-gal network: a custody battle, alcoholism, and family dysfunction. But Reddin weaves these situations together to form a broader, darker canvas. Yes, his fascinatingly dysfunctional family (and, as untold playwrights before him have discovered, dysfunctional families are all alike: gripping in the way they prevent us from looking away, even as they remind us, often, of our own families) has its share of problems. Jackie (Kate Martin, in a smartly realized and textured turn) is a Jehovah's Witness who wants her daughter back from the clutches of her non-believing ex, Harold (Bill Bannon, pulse firmly on the hopelessness of his cause to keep his daughter in a society where mothers reign supreme, often regardless of their suitability). Jackie has to cope with a stubborn, aging mother (funny and honest work by Cheri Chenoweth) who doesn't want to conform to her daughter's religious beliefs, even though she's come to share home and hearth with her. She also has to explain why her rebellious, alcoholic sister, Maggie (a solid portrait of a fragile woman by Julie Daley) has turned up alive after she had told her mother she had died. Finally, Jackie has fallen under the clutches of her fellow Jehovah's Witness and attorney, Chris (Scott Aiello, eerie and shocking in his ability to do a split-second change from caretaker to fanatic), who wants to marry her (and does, with predictable tragic results). All these forces come together to form a dark comedy (very dark) that is more about the longing for human connection and how we fail to make those connections than it is about family dysfunction and religious fanaticism.
Reddin's script is honest and finely honed: in 15 sharply etched scenes, he exposes likable, yet very flawed characters, brings them together, tears them apart, and ends with a credible rapprochement that at once reveals the healing of family pain and at the same time, demonstrates how that pain continues, in the sad, simple gesture of a little girl going through a door. Credit fine direction from Nathaniel Swift in bringing Reddin's sharp script to fluid life. Mike Winkelman's scenic design, corroded and drab, brings a kind of all-purpose surrealism to the events.
Eclipse has a winner on its hands in its second production in a season of playwright Keith Reddin's plays. There isn't a weak link in the entire production.
This article shared 2713 times since Wed Aug 4, 2004
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