When one attends a production at Profiles Theatre ( on any of its stages), one can anticipate stories that are “actor-driven”, which means theater that brings to the stage “emotionally truthful productions” ( as stated in their Mission Statement). Over the years, I would have to say , they have lived up to this mission bringing us world and local premieres as well as old classics that are seldom performed. On their Alley Stage, just a few doors down from their main stage, they are presenting the Midwest premier of Sharr White’s “Annapurna”, a 90 minute story about how the bond of a love can outlast the pain and suffering of more than 20 years.
Directed by Eric Burgher on a set designed by Katie-Bell Springman, this is the story of a man, Ulysses ( the always reliable Darrell W. Cox) and his ex-wife, Emma ( a delightful performance by Lia D. Mortensen). It all takes place in a trailer home (if one can call this seedy filthpot a home) in Colorado. This is where Ulysses resides. He is a poet, now working on his final book of poetry when she arrives, surprising him. We learn quickly that they were married and had a son, Samuel and that twenty years earlier she had left him.They have not seen each other since.
Emma has sought him out for her own reasons. Samuel, wants very much to meet and know his father. Emma has found out that he is ill and may only have a short time left and wants very much for her son to have the “closure” he deserves. We also find that despite his crudeness, at one time, they had a great love affair and deep down, Emma might still have strong feelings towards the man who fathered her son.
This is a taut reunion with Emma doing all that she can to make it easier on her ex. The chemistry between the two grows strongly during the 90 minutes and despite the rage and outrage between them, we still see that there are feelings and compassion, not just for their son, who needs to know the truth, but for both of them, to get the closure that they need. Please be prepared for some nudity, both male and female ,in this one and also let me remind you that the intimate space (only 62 seats) does not hide much of anything.
Some of what makes an intimate space work is the technical parts as well. The lighting (Claire Chrzan and Mike Durst) along with the costumes (if one can call them costumes by Raquel Adorno) and sound/original music (Jeffrey Levin) along with the great props gathered by Danica Jenelle Horton, all add to the total picture that has been placed before us. Again, this is a very intimate space so we do get to hear every word. I do suggest that you concentrate a little extra on those of Mr. Cox as he has a rough accent and because his character is dying of lung cancer, wears an oxygen tank with his nose covered partially. There are times he can sound blurry, but if you listen carefully you will get it all.
While this is a two character play/story, the third character, Samuel, who never appears is of course the most important. He is the reason for the split and the reason for them to meet again. Most of us are aware of stories where mothers have left their husbands despite great love for them in order to keep their kids safe. In this story we are never really sure if Ulysses did the things that Emma thinks he did, but we do learn that her love for him never truly went away. Watch their eyes and listen to their words and your eyes will be full opened, to how strong, true love for both child and spouse can be.
“Annapurna” will continue at Profiles Theatre’s ALLEY, located at 4147 N. Broadway thru July 20th with performances as follows:
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets from $35-$40 ( students and seniors get $5 off) and can be purchased by calling 773-549-1615 or online at www.profilestheatre.org
Parking is limited in the area, but there is a lot located at 4100 N. Clarendon, a short walk away) for $14-$16
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Annapurna”