Interrobang Theatre Project and Rivendell Theatre Presents A MILE IN THE DARK Review—The Darkside of Domestic Life

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An aged living room in the present day sets the scene. iPhones and AirPods hint that this kitchen and living room haven’t changed since the Seventies, and the man, Roger (Keith Kupferer), sitting on a worn out armchair has deeply grooved brows that suggest his dark spell has been brewing for maybe as long. A TV flashes over his face from beyond the fourth wall but it’s likely he watches something else, invisible. Newspapers, Chinese food, and a beer bottle are scattered about. A simple wood crucifix hangs on a back wall almost out of sight.  Not until his daughter Jess (Laura Berner Taylor) enters the front door with a cosmopolitan sleekness does air finally seem to fill the wall-papered anachronism. 

Walking into the small Rivendell Theatre, especially during this industry night performance, impresses an insider’s intimacy inevitable in a space of hair-breadth distance between actor and audience. We are up close to see firsthand the kitchen talk between father and daughter after the death of the former’s second wife, the sunny and lighthearted Carol. Reference to the TV news-take on this event trickles in secondhand through them, juxtaposing the private with the publicized.

Playwright Emily Schwend’s script gives us the inverse of a public news story about an unexpected death, as we glimpse the family’s deepest traumas. 

As Jess tries to comb through her dad’s memory, his retelling of his wife’s death is anything but crisp. He speaks in broken, befuddled phrases. Twisted consternation always grips his mien. Despite this, we also laugh at his makeshift aesthetic of a man too pragmatic for interior design. He puts flowers in an empty bottle of Lipton tea for lack of a vase. He supposes it’s good enough. 

Interrobang Theatre and Rivendell Co-Production Whisper a Family’s Silent Suppressions

With few revelations, excepting the occasional shout from Roger, the dialogue is sighed and whispered. When scenes close and the lights dim, classical instruments intensify the drama with what sounds like a haunting psychological race. 

There are some pleasantly light moments also when Jess’s friend Kayla (Liz Sharpe) or her boyfriend David (William Anthony Sebastian Rose II) enter the scene. 

You too might feel as though some pronouncement of truth was always beating just out of our soundscape. Every twitch of Roger’s mouth seems to suggest so.

Questions emerge obliquely, as if gesturing to some greater throughline in the play such as when Jess and her friend Kayla sit at a bar and discuss the unnerving silence of some couples. Do men voice their romantic sensitivities with other men? Or do they bottle them up? 

In this writer’s view, the naturalistic acting of the cast is stellar and goes a long way to drawing us deeply into their domestic world.  

A MILE IN THE DARK is a must see for anyone drawn to depth psychology in dramatic performances. 


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Laura Berner Taylor
Matthew Martinez Hannon
Keith Kupferer
Liz Sharpe
William Anthony Sebastian Rose II


Written by Emily Schwend
Directed by Georgette Verdin
Lindsay Mummert (Scenic Designer)
Gregory Graham (Costume Designer)
Eric Watkins (Lighting Designer)
Erik Siegling (Sound Designer)
Richie Vavrina (Production Manager)
Evan Sposato (Technical Director)
Wendye Clarendon (stage manager)


Thru December 11, 2022


Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
5779 N. Ridge Avenue



For more information and tickets visit the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble website.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

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Anthony Neri

About the Author: Anthony Neri

An avid philosophizer and Dostoevsky fanboy, Anthony spends his time ruminating on very deep moral questions. Is he a genuine old soul or does he feign as much for the mystique?--perhaps a bit of both. When he isn't tormenting himself existentially, he reads fiction and translates ancient Greek and Latin texts, all the while developing his own literary flourishes with the hope of producing his very own dazzling prose. Cliche? Maybe. But he figures everyone starts out as a cliche.

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