Somewhat Recommended ** I never thought I would say that I was “lost” in a production, but tonight, while watching “Kin Folk” at The Den Theatre’s Upstairs Main Stage, it happened. This is a World Premier of a new work by William Glick that had very little story and substance for me. There was a great deal of laughter from the 20-somethings and of course the actor’s friends and family, but, from my seat, one that is known for “big laughter”, there was almost none. Let me try to explain what Glick has put on the stage with the direction of Evan Linder.
The story is about a family that is leaving their suburban house (never is it mentioned where the suburban home is) to move to Chicago. Nice, local touch, for sure, but they mention different neighborhoods, so the question becomes are they all moving together into a new house or is each of the family members finding their own apartment? Every member of the family is hoping that their lives will become more vibrant in Chicago. Lucy (Annie Prichard shows off her agility and energy in this role) sees her future differently- she is married to Toby (deftly handled by Chris Fowler) who is active in the church and probably far too normal for Lucy.
When Lucy makes her move, she self-actualizes as her true self, a Dragon named Kreeka. This is where it gets very Dungeons and Dragons come to life- Can Lucy/Kreeka exist in her new life without her family? She now has a new “family in the community of Otherkin ( get it ?, her other kin), who are magical, non-human creatures. They all seemed pretty “human” in being if not in mentality- a giant named Blubberwort (Andrew Hobgood) and an elf (Steve Love) and a werewolf from Montana (Stephanie Shum). It is their job to show her how to live this new life, away from the normal and into the “fantastic”. Hard to decide which family she should go with. I think the audience may have been rooting for the weird ones.
Oh, wait a minute. Maybe it was her real family that were the weird ones. Her sister, Mary ( Elise Spoerlin) ,who is about as normal as can be ,with the love of her family, and the desire to be on camera, and her other sister ( or is it her brother going through “trans”) ,Eleanor (Alexia Jasmene, who may have been the best character written in this story). There was no actual program given to us, but instead a lovely little note with some of the lines in the third draft. On the card it says:
Blubberwort: “So You’re awakening”
Blubberwort:” You Sure”
Arethin (the elf):” Yes, she’s sure!//Jesus”
For the record, the set is another weird piece of the puzzle. Designed by John Wilson, there are doors on each side of the stage and in the center a large table that can be many things in many worlds ( or cities or neighborhoods) the walls are used for projections (Paul Dediel) but in many cases, they were played far to low causing the audience to move forward to view ( at least that kept them into the action). Morgan Lake handles the sound, but as in many of our smaller theaters, the actors must learn to project to the back of the house and to speak clearly. Once you lose an audience, there is no getting them back! The costumes (Kate Kamphausen) and lighting (Heather Sparling) added to the total picture.
The New Colony is a young company that is working hard to bring younger people to the theater. They have done a great job of doing so, and I am in hopes that they find some better material with which to work . I can see the spark of talent in their company, just waiting for the right material to bring to a much larger audience than the twenty-somethings. “Kin Folk” will continue through August 14th at The Den Theatre located at 1333 N.Milwaukee Avenue (second floor) with performances as follows:
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tickets run $20-$25 with senior and student discounts of 25% and are available at http://www.thenewcolony.orgor by calling 773-413-0862
Note: Milwaukee Avenue meter boxes are marked with hours. on the side streets, it seems the meters are only active until 6 p.m. ( read to make sure). The show is 85 minutes in length, but on opening they started 15 minutes late, so if you a meter feeder, take that in consideration. The Den has a bar and beverages can be brought into the theater.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Kin Folk”