It’s early in the morning, and Danny and Marlowe are in the midst of their cold-weather shift. They are surrounded by garbage bags of varying sizes. Marlowe is clearly trying to keep her head down and finish the job so she can get back in the truck. Danny is taking his time.
Danny peaks inside an Amazon box and immediately throws it down. As he glances over at Marlowe, it’s clear he has some kind of plan in the works. He encourages her to open the box, and she refuses. He continues to push and finally she cautiously approaches the box. Slowly she bends down and peaks in, only to immediately jump back. Danny doubles over in laughter, knowing he succeeded. He walks over to the box and pulls out a huge pink dildo, which he proceeds to wave around the space as if it were a sword.
As Danny taunts Marlowe with his new find, the Opening Night audience erupted in laughter and cheers.
Northlight Theatre presents The Garbologists
Lindsay Joelle’s comedic two-hander follows Danny (Luigi Sottile) and Marlowe (Tiffany Renee Johnson) – two sanitation workers from very different backgrounds. While Danny has been on the job for a while, we meet Marlowe on her first day. We slowly learn that she is an Ivy League academic, and this world is very different from anything she had experienced before. The two are forced together on the early 6am route, tensions certainly begin high. Danny is a mansplainer who wants a buddy, and Marlowe just wants to get the job done. However, as the two begin to get to know each other, a friendship forms, and slowly they learn that more might bring them together than they had expected.
Directed by Cody Estle, The Garbologists is at its heart a comedy. The clashing personalities of Danny and Marlowe make for hilarious moments that left this opening night audience cracking up for minutes at a time – not unlike the dildo scene described above. However, Joelle’s story also creates space for you to get to know the depths of these characters – making for some intimate, heartfelt moments in the midst of the comedy. Sottile and Johnson bring that balance to life and if you are anything like this writer, you may just find yourself leaning in, hoping that friendship succeeds.
Cody Estle and his team completely transform Northlight’s theater into the streets of New York – complete with a garbage truck on stage. Upon walking into the space, you are immediately met with piles upon piles of garbage bags, old mattresses, boxes, and random objects. The audience’s close proximity to the packed stage plants them in the middle of the action, which, at least for this writer, heightened the experience of watching the story come alive.
Joelle’s play opens on Day 1 of Danny and Marlowe’s new shift together. They are sitting in the garbage truck when the lights go up. Danny continues talking at a mile a minute, and Marlowe continues to stare ahead, cradling her cup of coffee like it is a gift. With that close proximity to the stage, we can see Marlowe fuming – working with everything she has to keep her frustration hidden. We can see those tensions rise, and you might just feel the awkwardness melt over you as you wait for the reaction to come. Finally she let’s Danny have it – reminding him that it’s 6:00 in the morning and no one is ready to talk until they have had the morning coffee.
Strong performances and a tight script makes The Garbologists a two-hander to remember. If you are looking for a night of heartfelt comedy, this is the play for you.
Tiffany Renee Johnson (Marlowe) and Luigi Sottile
Title: The Garbologists
Written by: Lindsay Joelle
Directed by: Cody Estle
Collette Pollard (Scenic Design), Gregory Graham (Costume Design), Greg Hoffman (Lighting Design), Josh Schmidt (Sound Design), Jyreika Guest (Intimacy & Fight Coordinator), and Persephone Lawrence-Wescott (Props). The production stage manager is Rita Vreeland.
Thru October 2, 2022
Tuesdays: 7:30pm (Sept 6 only)
Wednesdays: 1:00pm and 7:30pm
Saturdays: 2:30pm (except Sept 2) and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:30pm; and 7:00pm (Sept 4 only)
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie
About the Author: Lauren Katz
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.
Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.