Somewhat recommended ** Theater Wit’s production of “Naperville” was kind of disappointing. It really wasn’t about Naperville, although a little bit of history and some site specific references were mentioned. In fact, since it was set in a Caribou Coffee, it could have been written about any small town anywhere. I just couldn’t empathize with any of the characters, so “Naperville” gets 2 Spotlights.
Anne (Abby Pierce), is sitting in Caribou Coffee, working hard on something. Sorting through all the notes she’s written on napkins, she tries over and over to record a narrative about Captain Joseph Naper, founder of the town. She gets hung up on the great lakes, and her inability to remember the name of the fifth lake (Ontario). Noticing all the napkins she’s used, TC (Andrew Jessop), the brand new manager of this location, brings her some actual paper and several coffee refills. Anne has just been through a divorce, is currently unemployed and is temporarily living with her parents.
Sometime later, an older woman, Candice (Laura T. Fisher), accompanied by her son, Howard (Mike Tepeli), walks to Anne’s table and rudely announces that this is her table, she sits there every day, and everyone knows this is her table. Anne gathers her things in a huff and moves to another table. Three weeks away from Caribou Coffee, she announces, and Nick, her favorite barista, isn’t working. She pitches a fit over her latte and Nick’s absence, TC makes her another and another.
Candice is blind, but she’s still one of the least sympathetic characters I’ve seen in a long time. She’s rude, selfish and kind of mean. She fell off a ladder at home, but didn’t call 9-1-1 or her doctor until three days later even though she was having terrible headaches and seeing flashes. When she lost her sight, she finally did go to the hospital. She’s been to the center for the blind but she won’t use her white cane, insisting that she doesn’t need it.
Candice embarrasses Howard repeatedly by discussing how much he’s improved since high school, his weight loss since he moved to Seattle, his lack of a girlfriend, the fact that he won’t go back to Seattle and leave his mother alone. Candice decides that Anne might make a good girlfriend, but since Howard and Anne actually went to the same high school – she was one of the popular girls and he was a nerd – he’s reluctant.
The final character is Candice’s acquaintance from Caribou Coffee, Roy (Charlie Strater), a true believer, who encourages everyone to embrace Jesus. Anne got tired of listening to Roy and Candice and locked herself in the bathroom. I found it rather disgusting that she sat cross-legged on the bathroom floor for several hours – who does that in a public bathroom?
There was a beautifully logical spot for “Naperville” to end – under an imaginary starry sky over Lake Michigan – but the playwright decided that the story needed fifteen minutes of unnecessary dialogue after that.
“Naperville” runs through October 16th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago. Running time is 1 hour, 35 minutes, no intermission.
Thursday 8 p.m.
Friday 8 p.m.
Saturday 8 pm
Sunday 2: pm.
Tickets range from $12-$36. Valet parking is available. There is street parking as well, some metered, some not.
FYI (773) 975-8150 or www.theaterwit.org
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