Friday November 24th 2017

“Freshly Fallen Snow”

There is no doubt that Chicago Dramatists IS “the playwrights’ theatre”, giving us some of the meatiest of theatrical productions, on a tiny stage in an intimate theater, allowing audiences to truly feel that they have broken through the fourth wall. Thier current production, a world premiere, ” Freshly Fallen Snow” written by M.E.H. Lewis, one of their resident playwrights is a taut story, smoothly directed by Meghan Beals McCarthy, that  tells us a story involving memories, and a scientist, Jane Smith ( the lovely Kristen D’Aurelio, who gives us a powerhouse performance) who is pioneering a new procedure that will change the memories of those who have memory disorders. While she claims that her purpose is to help the world, we find that deep down, her research is motivated by her mother ( a warm, tender performance by veteran Ann Whitney) who has many sleepless nights due to memories that haunt her from her early years of growing up in Germany during the second world war.

In order to get the dollars that are needed to continue her research and testing, she is asked to  take on a new patient,  a war scarred female veteran of the Iraq war,  A.J. ( deftly handled by Kelly O’Sullivan, who wants nothing more that to return to Iraq and continue her life as a soldier. Jane’s desire is so strong for her dream, that she pushes A.J. to the brink and in doing so, also gets her mother to open up and relate far more of her story than she had anticipated. Both her mother and A.J. have deep rooted secrets that along the way come out and as we learn the lies and truths of the incidents that have created these nightmares, we see that each of these women feels the need to not lose the memories despite the harm caused by them.

To be fair to the wonderful story told by Ms Lewis, I will not get very deep into each of the ladies actual nightmarish tales, but will tell you that there are some heavy secrets for both. To rid oneself of one’s memories, in reality, is to erase the lives that each has had. In A.J.’s story , she cannot live with a certain night in her life and although what she did may have been wrong, in reality, she reacted to a specific moment and had no choice but to do what she did. In the case of Clothide, Jane’s mother, she was a child living in a war struck world where she really had no idea of what was going on in her town. What she did was wrong, but at the time, she was reacting to a parent-child situation and despite having the opportunity to have her memory of the incident erased, she says, she must not. As we all know what took place during the Holocaust was real and yet, there are those who claim it was not. Therefore, it is always said “We cannot forget”, lest the future generations may not believe. That is why survivors, who are reduced in numbers as they pass on, have made tapes in order to keep the memory alive, so it can never happen again. Jane’s mother also feels that her story must live on, no matter the pain and suffering caused by it.

While the play starts off a little slow, as the stories unfold and we begin to see that parallels, the pace quickens and we, the audience, become highly involved in the two lives that Jane explores. The title also has some significance in that both ladies stories involve some “Freshly Fallen Snow”, which serves as a symbol of cleansing for each, a new covering for the old picture, and their old lives. This is a story that deals with choices made in life, what we tell others, the truths and lies of our past and what lies in between. A well told story with a wonderful ensemble of actors who take on may characters who keep the flow of action moving as designed by Director McCarthy. Abu Ansari, Michael McKeogh,and Mildred Marie Langford, all brilliant performers, who handle their roles with great creativity and sensitivity.

The set by Courtney O’Neill is simple, but works to perfection, showing us that often it is the acting that brings life to the written page and the set is only secondary. Ths play calls for just that as the words spoken are key to the unraveling of the stories. Michael Huey’s sound is wonderful, with some original music that adds to the overall picture and the lighting by Casey Diers works as well. Rasean Davonte Johnson and Anna Henson handles the projections which were the icing on the cake in making this two hour production as strong as it is.

“Freshly Fallen Snow” will continue at Chicago Dramatists Theatre through October 28th with performances as follows:

Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $32 ( Students are $15 for Thursdays).

This is a smaller house, so I would not wait long. This may be as strong as  “A Steady Rain” when it comes to audinece appeal, so “if you snooze, you lose”. To order your tickets call 312-633-0630 or visit www.chicagodramatists.org

The theater is located at 1105 W. Chicago Avenue ( Chicago/Ogden and Milwaukee avenues), but the actual entrance is in what appears to be the rear of the building. The Blue Line is probably the best way to go as there is a stop right there. There is parking in the area, but mostly metered and for grabbing a bite, D’Augostina’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant is right next door.

To learn what others say about this production, go back to my Home Page, click on to theatreinchicago link, go to review round-up and click on Freshly Fallen Snow

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2 Comments for ““Freshly Fallen Snow””

  • Gail says:

    Difficult to believe a reviewer who uses can’t do the grammar. “There” should be “Their”. “Taught” is the past tense of teach. “Taut” is what this author meant. I stopped reading after that.

    • Alan Bresloff says:

      I apologize for what you read. Since my reviews are done that night to get to the many newspapers ( who translate and edit) often, I will only spell check and then later re-read and fix.
      The readers will find it in mostly in Russian,Spanish, Polish or Chinese. In English, an editor for the paper running it will retype it to fit their needs. I thank you for sending me the note and hope you will read my reviews for what I am saying, which is the reason that I review the plays- is it something of value for YOU! It is my feeling that I am a reporter, one that will help the theater audiences decide if there is indeed a value in spending hard earned dollars during these economic times for entertainment.


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