Tuesday May 30th 2017

“A Twist of Water”

A Twist of Water- photos by Brandon Dahlquist One of the newer theater companies in Chicago, Route 66 Theatre Company produces theater that explores risk and embraces the American spirit of exploration. While they are new to our scene, many of the members are “old hands” in being both onstage and backstage and their latest production, “A Twist of Water” is a very strong look at some of what makes America, America and even more so, Chicago, Chicago! Written by Caitlin Montanye Parrish, “Water” is a story that deals with the history of Chicago and that of a non-traditional family and some of the parts of the whole that run parallel.

Noah ( a solid performance by the always reliable Stef Tovar) is a teacher and a father. He is Gay and he and his “husband” Richard, adopted an African American daughter. Together, they raised her as a family and like many families, their daughter Jira ( a beautiful performance by Falashay Pearson) was closer to her “father” who she had much less quality time with. As a doctor, his hours were harder to come by, while Noah was always there. A year before, Richard was killed in an auto accident and like the destruction of the city of Chicago by the great fire, Noah is attempting to rebuild their lives. Since they were not a “couple” per the law and hospital rules, Noah was not allowed to see Richard in his last moments, but sent Jira back to him. Under today’s laws, this would not have been a problem, but Jira has yet to forgive Noah for not being with her as she watched Richard die.

It is now a year later and Noah is attempting to rebuild his life ( as did the survivors of the Chicago fire) and go on. Jira has decided that she needs to have a family and perhaps it is time for her to find her birth mother and have a family. Noah fears that what might happen from her doing so may destroy his family. Noah, during this time has become close to another teacher, Liam ( deftly handled by Alex Hugh Brown) a Gay English teacher who is all about Carl Sandburg and his Chicago as well. Little by little, these two men become close and Liam helps Noah deal with the problems of raising a teen-age daughter. At one point, he tells Jira that she is not being fair to Noah and doesn’t understand how he truly feels about her. Noah does help her to find her birth mother ( played with just the right touch by Lili-Anne Brown) who is happy to see her daughter but has a whole new life and family and is not in a position to go back in time. Like the city that burned to the ground and rebuilt, she has, after giving up a child born out of wedlock, rrebuilt her burned out life and has a new life that is far better than what she had, just as Chicago became a better city after being rebuilt.

“A Twist of Water” is a love story. Not a typical love story, but one of the love of a city ( Chicago, which was “born out of the water”) but the love of a parent who opted to give up a baby to a couple ( albeit same sex partners) who had love to give, and of the man who loves and adores the girl that he has been left to care for despite her fear of the future and the past. Jira, after meeting her birth mother and seeing that Noah is indeed her family accepts life as it is and decides to go forward and make her life better instead of trying to keep the past which can never return. Family is what it is all about and in the end, Jira accepts that Noah is indeed her “family” and that if Liam makes him happy, then she must accept his happiness as her happiness.

This is a very moving and touching story directed with a great sense of feeling and heart by Erica Weiss, who helped to create this wonderful and moving story. The set by Stephen H. Carmody is mostly a video projection screen with projections designed by John Boesche and some marvelous phots of old Chicago making this almost a history of the birth and rebirth of our great city. On the eve of the 2011 Mayoral election, it would have been very cool to have all the candidates in the audience and see their reactions to this glorious story of our city and some of the people who call this their home! The music and sound by Lindsay Jones and the lighting by Sean Mallary are the icing on the cake of this marvelous theatrical experience. I will suggest that you bring some extra Kleenex with you as there are moments where your eyes will swell to the point where the tears cannot be held back.

Yes, Chicago is called Chicago because of it’s water, but Chicago is special because of its people and each of the characters in this heart-warming story about a family that in the end understands the true meaning of “family”. I for one want to thank Route 66 for taking on a story that deals with adoption and what can happen when a child feels it is time to seek out the birth parent as well as dealing with the non traditional family in a time when more of these “families” are coming to be and are getting accepted by the general population and the legal establishments. Try to think how you would feel if your mate was in a hospital bed, near death and you were told that you could not be with them because you lacked a piece of paper- this play gets to this point and what transpired because this happened.

I suggest with all my heart that you make planes to go to the new Theater Wit Building located at 1229 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago and see this production. It will open your mind and entertain you. “Water” will run through March 20th with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. ( play runs about 2 hours 20 minutes with one 10 minute intermission)

Tickets are $25 ( $15 for students) a great value for theater of this quality and can be purchased by calling 773-975-8150 or online at www.theaterwit.org/boxoffice

There is parking on the street and free parking at Cooper’s Restaurant across the street, which by the way has a super menu and will make sure you get fed and out with time to spare so you enter the theater relaxed, not rushed.

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