Rose Valley Theatre Company’s A SUNDAY EVENING can be an entire existential crisis
From the moment the upstage door opens, and we see the shadows of a man and a woman holding hands while colorful lighting flickers to the beat of European pop music in the background, there’s a hint at how these two are trying to hold on to each other as the world around them pulsates with its own current. Holding on to who you are, or who you were, more aptly, proves even more difficult. And on a Sunday Evening, the inaugural production of Rose Valley Theatre Company, it can all unravel with hilarity and heartbreak.
In the land of opportunity, the pursuit of happiness is a daily killer.
When you migrate to the United States to pursue the American Dream, no one explains to you about the small print. You might not even realize there is a small print until you have achieved your dreams and you wake up one day realizing those are the dreams of someone else- the person you no longer are. Nick and Rose seemingly have what they set out to get: a beautiful abode in Beverly Hills, a pool, a happy child, good relations with the neighbors. But their success is a wedge dividing them, driving itself further in with every glass of wine, every unspoken word, every Sunday Evening.
Nick (Logan Hulick ) is an ex-boxer (which could be short-hand for bruisers that were employed by 90s Bulgarian mafia), who now deals with activities that bring the family lots of money. Rose (Rachel Sepiashvili), his wife, is unhappy and has begun to wonder if every aspect of her life has been a grave mistake. The catalyst is the discovery of love letters of an unconsummated love affair. The witness is Stella (Maria Margaglione), of some mild 80s film fame, who happens to be the couple’s next door neighbor and friend. But we’ll put a ping on her for a moment. Lots can happen on a Sunday Evening, and it does, from sharing painful memories to indecent exposure, from Turkish coffee premonitions, (in this writer’s view, a neat use of a foreshadowing tool), to dancing in the living room. Even the cops make an appearance, if only to keep us reminded of the broader social commentary on excessive police force. Sprinkle in a few flashback scenes, and playwright Zachary Karabashliev skillfully sneaks in the tragedy happening next door. Which brings us back to neighbor Stella.
How can you begin to forgive yourself if others won’t forgive you first?
Stella’s story unfolds like a raw onion. Every layer is enough to bring on the waterworks, and each one hides more and more tear jerking layers. At first, it’s the realization she is a washed up actor with desperate need to feel relevant. Then, it’s her daughter Jenny (Melanie McNulty) who is constantly hitting her up for money. Then there is the revelation about the drinking and the absentee parenting. Layer after layer, and by the end, Stella’s relationship with her junkie daughter, strained further by her husband (an important role that we never get to see on stage), is a catastrophe in slow motion. Atonement isn’t even an option. Stopping by neighbors Nick and Rose on a rainy Sunday Evening is the only available move.
Adults have a harder go at change.
From the perspective of the 9 year old this writer brings to the theatre (although warned that the play is not suitable for children), this play features adults who struggle with shifting their lives, and fixing the broken. But as adults, we can probably all relate.
This new company is dedicated to bringing contemporary work by underserved communities to the Chicago stage. Artistic Director Zlatomir Moldovanski has chosen a bold work to make their mark.
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.
Maria Margaglione, “Stella;” Rachel Sepiashvili,”Rose;” Logan Hulick, “Nick;” Melanie McNulty, “Jenny;” Whitney Pipes, ensemble; Grant Johnson, ensemble and Jordan Kulow, ensemble
Zlatomir Moldovanski, director; Reginald Robinson, associate director; Chloe Baldwin, intimacy and fight choreographer; Chas Mathieu scenic designer; Scott Wagner lighting designer; Julia Stoyanova, costume designer and Bernard Balbot, dialect coach.
Running through February 9, 2020
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Greenhouse Theater Center
About the Authors: Tonika Todorova and her son Jaxon DuFloth:
Tonika Todorova is a freelance writer and director that goes by the self imposed title of Adventure Architect. She experiences a lot of performance with her eight year old son, Jaxon, by her side, and his reflections on Chicago theatre offer a refreshingly new perspective for her, and hopefully, others. Jaxon practices autonomous learning and is proud to be an Albany Park Chicago Children's Choir singer.