Wednesday January 24th 2018

“Little Fish” review by Carol Moore

Recommended *** In its essence, “Little Fish” is a story about a young woman’s struggle to quit smoking.  I could relate – as could almost anyone who has gone through nicotine withdrawal.  Self-loathing is just one of the emotions that desperately surly person might be feeling.  That wasn’t enough for playwright Michael John LaChiusa, who set “Little Fish” post-9/11, trying to make it more than it is.  There is just no parallel between one woman’s search for a cigarette substitute and a community’s search for meaning after a senseless tragedy.  3 Spotlights

Nicole Laurenzi is perfectly cast as Charlotte, a 30-something writer who decided to quit smoking.  She can’t concentrate on anything, she doesn’t like the horrible person she’s become, and even the corner newsstand is a trigger.

As she broods, unpleasant memories of her loathsome, belittling ex, Robert (Jeff Meyer – through July 30th), undermine her self-confidence.  When he compared her to a blob, she ran – eventually landing in New York with a frenetic coke-snorting roommate, Cinder (Teressa LaGamba).  She turned down the coke, but took that first cigarette.

Her besties, Kathy (Aja Wiltshire) and Marco (Adam Fane) try to get her interested in something.  Kathy even suggests exercise at the ‘Y’, although she says to avoid the pool.  To Kathy’s surprise, she tries swimming which becomes another obsession.

Charlotte dreams about meeting her childhood heroine, Anne Frank (Kyrie Courter),  then meets a real girl with that name.  She shops for hats with Kathy and Marco.  Another new obsession, running laps, utilizes all the levels of Arnel Sancianco’s terraced set which is done in tones of blue.

In an introspective moment, Charlotte says she hasn’t written anything in months which made me wonder how she could afford her expensive New York rent.

The ensemble also includes Carl Herzog as Mr. Bunder and Curtis Bannister as John Paul, although his roles were played by Darren Patin opening night.

I loved the music which was kind of a blend of Latin, jazz and rock played by an onstage orchestra: Korey Danielson (conductor/keyboard), Charlotte Rivard-Hoster (keyboard 2), Mike Matlock (reeds), Kyle McCullough (guitar), Jake Saleh (bass) and Scott Simon (percussion). I could relate to “Cigarette Dream”, because I had that dream for at least a year after I quit smoking.

 

Laurenzi is a brave girl to wear a swimsuit on stage.  In fact, that suit was her base – under a tank to sleep, add a skirt, and good to go.  Cover with a dress, add a track suit, take off jacket, add a blouse with suit as a shell underneath.  Kudos to Kate Kamphausen for all the interesting combos.

 

Kokandy Productions’ “Little Fish” runs through August 20th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago.  Running time 90 minutes, no intermission. 

Performances:

Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 pm

Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Tickets range from $33-$38.  Valet parking is available.  FYI (773) 975-8150 or www.kokandyproductions.com

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Little Fish”

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