Shattered Globe’s talented cast brings quirky characters to life in this playful script by Deborah Zoe Laufer- a tale on how to find or not find meaning in the modern world
You don’t have to be a devout habitué of yoga meditation to know immediately where you are at in the dark theater when the show begins. Even a one-time meditation tourist knows the hypnotic voice—urging you to let those roaming thoughts and distractions go, go, go so you can be in the present – Be Here Now.
When the lights come on we meet three women from this small town sitting cross-legged on their respective yoga mats. Two are Coopers, the town’s namesake family—older Patty (Deanna Reed-Foster) and millennial Luanne (Demetra Dee), who in their own way are heeding the meditation teacher’s voice. And then there is Bari (Rebecca Jordan) –none too happy about returning to her childhood town from the city, nor this particular yoga mat moment. They haven’t said a word but within minutes we know each somewhat intimately—happy go lucky Luanne who eagerly follows instructions to give herself a hug, curmudgeon Bari who successfully bottles an Edgar Kennedy slow burn in her fidgeting birdlike person, and eye-rolling Patty who has suffered this Bari fool intent on being unhappy just about long enough, and then some.
By this writer’s lights, Be Here Now, wouldn’t have to do much more than this opening scene—a classic moment that could find a happy home in the best silent movie. But playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer does do much more--- letting the story progress to tell a tale of how these three souls – and another Cooper, a distant cousin lately arriving in Coopersville too, Mike (Joseph Wiens)—and how they find ways to cope with the modern world and find a way to be in this world, here now.
The engine for the story is Bari’s severe headaches that progress from aura to crippling pain and eventually to seizures. After the seizures though, we meet a new Bari—one who is overcome with rapturous joy—indeed, for the first time in her life! No small joy, mind you. This is EUPHORIA (all caps!)—that cures writer’s block, makes for really great sex, and seeing OH MAN THE COLORS! auras she conjures were always there, if unrecognized. A woman who could connect with no one is in a flash the woman who can connect with anyone, even an injured bird that previously might have terrified her. Alas, it’s really a brain tumor, and whether and how she copes with this threat to her mortality is how the tale unfolds.
Shattered Globe Theatre Assembles Top Tier Acting Talent
This is a fun script, with Laufer tweaking us to consider the modern ironies of a calling a distribution warehouse a fulfillment center, or how one man’s junk is another man’s found object. You too though, like this writer, might think this script could quickly fall flat if it weren’t for the standout actors in the cast and the expert touch of Director Sandy Shinner. These are quirky characters spun more out of metaphor than real-world, who come off as homespun as your next door neighbors. The word that comes to mind to describe their performances is natural.
More literal minds that want plays that hew closely to the plausible might have to work a bit harder letting go of that nagging feeling that this story has some holes. Those of us who have injested many a fairy tale in our time will likely find this parable on modern life a true delight.
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
Title: BE HERE NOW
Playwright: Deborah Zoe Laufer
Directed by: Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner
Ensemble Members Rebecca Jordan*, Deanna Reed-Foster* and Joseph Wiens* with Protégé Alumna Demetra Dee+.
Thru October 19
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 3 pm
Added performance on Saturday, October 19 at 3 pm.
1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Angela Weber Miller (scenic design), Hailey Rakowiecki (costume design), Shelley Strasser (lighting design), Stephen Gawrit (sound design), Vivian Knouse (props design), Christina Gorman* (intimacy choreographer), Judy Anderson (executive production manager), Lucy Schuh (production manager), Tina M. Jach (stage manager) and Devonte Washington (assistant stage manager).
$42 (with discounts for students, seniors, industry)
For full-priced tickets and ticket availability information visit the Shattered Globe website or visit/call the Theater Wit box office -- (773) 975-8150
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Photos: Evan Hanover
Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago