When one hears the title of this new work by Nick Cardiff, I am sure that they are thinking of something other than what the story unfolds. The Title ” A Midlife Something” in reality applies to a young man who is turning 25 ( yes, far younger than what we would expect) and his letting go of his past and his anticipated dreams of his future. The play does get into a mix-up, childlike personality of its “hero”, Bob (Casey Kells, who plays with his hair far to much) as he looks to leave his boyhood home, his job and move into the city with his girlfriend, Allie( Becca Kravitz).
When we step back and look at this play, it is about this young man, whose father has passed away and sits in a container in the living room, hos lonely mother who is also depresses, his best friend and a woman who he meets when applying for a new job ( also depressed and lonely). There are many dysfunctional people and while they all have stories, the playwright centers on Bob, yet we do not know the whole story. Bob loves cooking but opts to work in a retail “market” as the economy will not allow him to go to school ( evidently). His best friend has a secret that we all learn about quickly, but is never really explained. Each of our characters has a short monologue ( to the audience) as if we were someone else and there is a great deal of “smoking weed” and sexual innuendos ( one scene is almost graphic).
Bob feels that he will not live past 50 years of age, so he has 25 years to get his act together > I guess that is the reference to “midlife”.The mother,Marie ( a strong performance by Ann Marie Heiman, who is far younger looking than the 50 she is supposed to be) is lonely, Ana ( deftly handled by Sarah Shirkey) is a lonely artists who works for an Internet company, one that Bob has applied to for a new job and finds something interesting about him. Their relationship is somewhat confusing as it appears she is drawn to him and he to her, but despite having problems with his girlfriend of three years, he feels the loyalty to Allie ( even though they break up). See?
Directed by Mikey Laird on an interesting set( also designed by Laird) the small stage area of The Den Theatre is used well, with only one problem- the shelf where the urn sits blocks the faces of the actors when they are at the table setting that is used for all the restaurant scenes. Otherwise , the use of the small stage is well designed and directed as we are in the living room and Ana’s office most of the time. There are lots of props(Celeste Burns), a great many works of art and a lot of alcohol containers,which are left all over the stage. Erik Barry’s lighting is fine and the costumes (Madison Percival) are serviceable.
All in all, this “World Premiere” might be considered a work in progress; one that has some real potential. If some of the pieces are fixed, and possibly the story gets cut from two hours to 90 minutes without the intermission, this could be a tighter more meaningful play that truly gets to the meat of what can happen to a young mind when all of the things in his life are not going according to “plan”.
“A Midlife Something” will continue at The Den Theatre located at 1333 N. Milwaukee Avenue ( 2nd floor) through April 20th. Performances are as follows:
Fridays,Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
SPECIAL Industry night on Thursday, April 18th @ $12
Tickets are $17 and can be reserved by contacting www.nothingspecialproductions.com
To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “A Midlife Something”