It’s a lazy evening down in the Alabama Delta. A couple, Betty and Kendra, sit in a beat up, old fishing boat lazily enjoying the afternoon.
Kendra in her raggedy slacks and muddy fishing boots casts off every now and again trying to see if anything will bite.
Betty perches on the bow of the boat relaxing in the sun, leisurely reading a book.
The two start chatting back and forth when the mood strikes them, but otherwise seem unbothered and relaxed at the start of THE GULF.
Tensions Rise at About Face
THE GULF is a character driven play as we slowly begin to find out bits and pieces of these two women’s six year relationship as the show continues on. We can feel there’s an unspoken history and problems lying beneath the surface, just waiting to bubble up.
Betty, played by Deanna Myers, tries to keep the conversation light even though she is really trying to suss out their future together. And though Kendra, played by Kelli Simpkins, is easy going and teases Betty, something seems like it’s about to snap as she tries to avoid answering any direct questions.
But the two can’t keep avoiding talking about the state of their relationship as fate forces them to have some difficult conversations.
No Way Out of This Boat
When dusk comes, the two try to make their way back to shore, but the engine fails to start. Faced with the reality of possibly having to spend the night out on the water, the tension boils over. They have to talk about issues from the past as well as figure out if they have a future together.
Simpkins and Myers deliver the script with a natural flow of conversation, in this writer’s opinion, and have just the right amount of passionate outbursts and touching, loving moments.
Bringing the Delta to Theater Wit
While we can’t bring an actual body of water into Theater Wit, the scenic design by Joe Schermoly still captures that feeling. A boat sits in the middle of stage surrounded by buckets and pails of water. Our two performers use these when needed to create any effect that calls for interacting with water.
THE GULF is also uniquely set in a theater-in-the-round set-up and audience members sit on all four sides of the stage surrounding this boat in the center. Nothing is hidden from us as we watch the intimacies of this relationship. And not to worry about missing anything by choosing one particular side to sit on, the boat also rotates so everyone gets a good view.
THE GULF is an intimate show that slowly pulls out the intricacies of the two women’s relationship. If you’re not one for shows that deal with relationship drama, this might not be the one for you. However, it would be a good fit for those who like dialogue driven plays that have a slow build to an epic release.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Kelli Simpkins as Kendra
Deanna Myers as Betty
Directed by Megan Carney, Scenic Design by Joe Schermoly, Lighting Design by Rachel Levy, Sound Design by Robert Hornbostel, Costume & Properties Design by Caitlin McCarthy, Associate Sound Design by Taylor Fitzjarrald, Technical Direction by Becca Venable, Master Electrician - Michael Barahura, Intimacy and Fight Direction by Gaby Labotka, Assistant Intimacy and Fight Direction by Kayla Menz, Associate Directing & Dramaturgy by Lanise A. Shelley, Stage Managed by Logan Boyd Jones, Production Managed by Jenna Meyers, Associate Production Manager Lucy Farnsworth, Assistant Director Amy Tien, Assistant Stage Manager Audrey Kleine.
Through February 15, 2020
Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3:00pm
1229 W Belmont Ave
About the Author
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski