It’s a big chill reunion of sorts.
Old college chums in their middle 30’s are getting together for another reunion. They’ve brought along two others who are new to the group, but each is an old friend of one of the pals. It’s happening in a mountain vacation home of one of the men in the group. No cellphones are allowed or any similar out there distractions. The plan is to just be themselves and be with each other, bonding without any interference. They also have what seems like a bottomless supply of wine.
Keeping what’s out there out there is easier said than done. Everyone who finds a seat at this table tracks in the ideological mud that he or she traverses “out there”. We watch as truth gets uncorked along with the wine. The first get together, though charged and drama packed, ends up being relatively tepid compared to the next year sequel after intermission.
This is simply a great script—fiercely political without preaching. Who better to give an X-ray of identity politics than members of the Peter Pan generation taking up a lot of their time on the planet pondering just what their identity is.
Playwright Michael Perlman delivers a thorough and insightful dissection of political belief systems of our times, or rather, the thoughts of just the thin sliver of “us” that we can find at this particular table.
Masterful acting and direction
It’s the character Lauren, played with subtle nuance by actress Echaka Agba that makes that point almost as an aside as she takes a step back from the group to ponder just what this group is. Having seen Agba in other roles before, it strikes this writer that only Perlman has given her a script that lets us really see what SHE brings to the table, which is considerable acting talent.
One can see also see expert direction (Director: Spencer Davis) in the perfect timing throughout. Most memorably, when actors David Weiss and Johnard Washington share a scene where they live out the non-starter fixup that Lauren (Agba) had imagined we become aware of the no-fat or lag in time direction. Actually it starts as soon as the lights come on and Evan Linder shows his stuff as the dominating white man at the table who will hardly let anyone get in a word edgewise.
The cast is rounded out by Adam Soule, Elise Spoerlein, Jennifer Cheung, and Benjamin Brownson who all deliver top notch performances.
This play is especially recommended for multi-generational theater groups on an outing—families or otherwise.
And Michael Perlman—please give us the sequel! Hmmm, perhaps bring a few more cases of wine to the next retreat and uncork discussion of reparations?
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Now thru March 11, 2017
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM
Sundays at 2:30 PM
Berger Park Coach House
6205 North Sheridan
Chicago IL 60660
Pay-what-you-can- -name your own ticket price.
Photos courtesy of Broken Nose Theatre.