Friday September 22nd 2017

“I Am Going To Change The World”

The intimacy of Chicago Dramatists theater on Chicago Avenue is very special. What makes it even more special is the new works they bring to their stage- works that make you think and works that most of us can relate to, in one form or another. Their current production, a World Premiere, written by Andrew Hinderaker ( the playwright that gave us last year’s “Suicide Incorporated” at The Gift) is a story about dreams of the future. Think back to your youth and all of the plans you made in your mind about who you were and what you were going to do that would “change the world” and you have the premise for this play- “I Am Going To Change World” smoothly directed by  Jonathan Berry.

John Chapman ( a brilliant character study performed by Nicholas Harazin, at the age of 9 wrote a memo to himself that he would be valedictorian of his high school class, the same in college and that he would then be hired by Goldman Sachs, rise through the ranks, get married, have two kids and by age 35, be a millionaire. This is how the story begins, at his graduation from the University of Chicago, with his fiance in attendance. The next morning, he is set for his interview with Goldman Sachs, but for some strange reason, his alarm doesn’t go off and he is running late.

What happens after he leaves his families home in Gary and heads to Chicago, is where the tale truly begins as he finds that his life is not what it was supposed to be and that somewhere along the line, his dreams have been crushed, and yet, he still carries that slip of paper in his wallet. In truth, it is 14 years later and he is now 35 years old, living in the basement of his parent’s home. As the story progresses and the past become revealed we learn more about how John’s dreams were crushed and his life changed. His parents, Frank ( Norm Woodel) and Marla ( deftly handled by Meg Thalken) work hard to make their son live a normal life, but we see that events in his life, and theirs, may have been the breaking point in his. His fiancee left him during his crisis and is now married with children ( the two children that were supposed to be his, based on his memo) and he only sees her through “Face-book”.

John is under the care of a psychiatrist,Dr. Jensen” ( a solid performance by Judy Blue) who works hard to bring John to terms with the events of these years and the problem that he has with time and flashing back to 14 years earlier, with therapy and drugs. During his recovery he has befriended a local , Troy ( skillfully played by Ed Flynn) who he works for and plays video games with, his only friend and as it turns out, his best medicine. While he drifts in and out of the past, he still wants to prove to everyone that he can have his dreams and make his parents lives better, beacuse  of him, so he continues to go back to Goldman Sachs and tells them he will start at the bottom to prove that he would be an asset to them, but when he does get an interview with Geoffrey ( Gabriel Franken)  and Tom ( Robert Koon), he finds himself drifting back the past and all hell breaks loose. His family, friend and Doctor all fear that this will set him back and that he may possibly harm himself, but Hinderaker’s final scenes between John and Troy, very realistic and human, bring a conclusion to the story where we see some hope for this man and those who love him.

The scenic design by Collette Pollard allows us to have many areas- the kitchen, John’s bedroom, the doctor’s office and the Goldman office in a very limited space and yet appear believable. Berry’s use of the set and stage are remarkable. Emily Guthrie’s props and Alison Siple’s costumes along with the sound/music by Chris Kriz and the lighting by Heather Gilbert add just the right touches along with some very real projections by Mike Tutaj ( Chicago’s finest when it comes to projections that never interfere with the action on the stage).

The chemistry between the cast members make this show feel very real and in particular, the dry humor and marvelous face of  Flynn as Troy. This production will continue at Chicago Dramatists located at 1105 West Chicago Avenue ( at Grand/Chicago/Milwaukee) through  July 1st with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $32 ( except for students on Thursday evenings at $15) and can be purchased online at www.chicagodramatists.org/box-office.

The Blue Line brings you right there and there are parking spots nearby ( some are metered) for info on parking- www.chicagodramatists.org/parking

This is a smaller theater, so in order to experience this production, order early.

 

for more on this show, visit the Change the World page at www.theatreinchicago.com

 

 

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