First and foremost, there was Mike Nussbaum as Rudy, a man near his end with bowel control going missing and mind at times too. His daughter-in-law and caretaker Linda, played by Penelope Walker, we come to see through his eyes, as a force that just gets even stronger and more vibrant when odds have been stacked against her. Her son Felix, or Fi as he is called for short, played by Sean Parris, is gay and the adult version of the shy and overwhelmed guy that Rudy so likes to recall as a wee lad. His much tattooed lover Jackson, played by Danny Martinez, so exudes mensch that he wins over his poised-to-reject him de facto Mother-in-law Linda, who sums it up neatly by saying with the tone of surprised discovery “..You are a really good person..”.
Each vulnerable and simultaneously strong, they are the poster children of humanity just living life, with all its curve balls.
We get to know them in a chain hotel room with two queen beds, in the night before the funeral for a man they loved but didn’t like—Rudy’s son, Linda’s one-time husband, and Felix’s father. It’s a small room that allows for the intimate details of Rudy’s decline and the problems that Linda, Felix and Jackson have brought from home to become apparent.
What a script! From this writer’s viewpoint, the way in which playwright Rachel Bonds has packed so much story into so little time with a flow akin to a gentle stream is breathtaking. The superlative performances and expert direction by BJ Jones certainly give her script their due. This New York born and bred writer tips hat and bows to small Tennessee town bred Bonds for capturing the New Yorkers’ zeitgeist and parochialism with granular accuracy.
Northlight Theatre Picks Perfect Match Script for Nussbaum
The only puzzle for this reviewer is whether this is Mike Nussbaum’s best performance ever, or if Northlight picked a script that required him to just read his lines just as his real person would. If for no other reason, Nussbaum’s so naturally delivered soliloquy on life, mortality and eternity as they all toast the sunrise with hotel mini-bar libations is in itself more than worth the price of admission.
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.
Written by: Rachel Bonds
Directed by: BJ Jones
Featuring: Mike Nussbaum (Rudy), Sean Parris (Felix), Danny Martinez (Jackson) and Penelope Walker (Linda)
Creative Team: Lauren Nigri (Scenic Design), Alexis Chaney (Costume Design), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design), Andre Pluess (Sound Design), Lynda Hanchett (Props) and Rita Vreeland (Stage Manager)
Thru October 21, 2018
Wednesdays: 1:00pm and 7:30pm
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except September 15) and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm and 7:00pm (September 16 and 30 only)
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd