Saturday February 24th 2018

“Moon Man Walk”

As most of you know, I try to help new theater companies get off the ground, whenever I can. Today, I went to Definition Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of “Moon Man Walk” written by James Ijames and sharply directed by Tyla Abercrumbie. Definition is a new company that was founded by 6 University of  Illinois grads and their Mission is to reflect the myriad of modern America and to tell language-driven, relationship-orientated, thought -provoking and socially relevant stories.

“Moon Man Walk” is an 85 minute ( no intermission) play, that tells us the story of a young man, Monarch (solidly played by Debo Balogun) and his relationships- with his mother, his girlfriend and his father ( well, this one might be better called, lack of relationship). The story is done with lots of flashbacks, but I for one found them a bit dis-jointed and often hard to follow.

The program notes tells us that Monarch, following the sudden death of his mother, returns  to Philadelphia so he can plan her funeral. During this time, he falls in love and finds out truths about his past and his father, who he never knew. I thought he met Petrushka prior to his mother’s passing, but if this is the case, when did he fall in love with her? Prior to the trip? While they were planning the funeral? Dis-jointed!

His mother is played by Shadana Patterson, who also plays a flight attendant, nurse, dry cleaning store attendant and others. A terrific actress, but I would have preferred her just being the mother so we would really get deeper into her history. The same is true with the delightful Michael Anthony Rawlins who plays about seven roles, including Monarch’s father. There was some mystery connected to why his father left and I was hoping that through the flashbacks, it might come to us, but although I listened hard, I never heard an explanation.

The idea of the story is to show that sometimes “the truth lies somewhere between the surface of the moon and wherever you are”! I never understood how this connects and the idea of the Astronaut made me think that Monarch thought that the reason his day left was to go to the Moon. As we find out ( or at least I think we found out) he did not. He ran away from life as it was happening, but in the flashbacks it seemed that he did want his son and wanted to be a part of his life, but it was the Mother that kept him from doing so. Perhaps discussions after the show might help!

The tech portions of the production were dynamite, considering the small stage; Set (Eleanor Kahn), Costumes ( Kristy Leigh Hall-there are a lot of changes for the character changes), lighting and projections( Slick Jorgensen) and sound (Mercedes White).

The play will continue at The Richard Christiansen Theater  ( upstairs, intimate space)at Victory Gardens, located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue ( just north of Fullerton) thru February 25th with performances as follows:

Thursdays  8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays  2:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $15-$30 open seating and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-871-3000 or online at www.victorygardens.org

Parking in the area is street ( metered and some not) .

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

 

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