Highly Recommended ***** Route 66, one of my favorite companies, known as a company that introduces, develops and produces new works to the stage, is presenting another GEM to open their 2016 season, a season dedicated to Dr. Harlan Haimes, a gentle soul and guiding light to this company through its early years. This wonderful little story, “No Wake”, now having its Midwest Premiere at The Greenhouse Theater Center (their new home), written by William Donnelly and smoothly directed by Kimberly Senior, is a marvelous look at what happens when a divorced couple find themselves brought together by a tragedy in life that affects them both.
Think about the relationships in our lives. Those of us who have each gone through separation or divorce, in particular. Think about how we would act or react if a child passed away and we were to come face to face with the person that was the other parent of that child and the one that we had split from. How would we react? How would we cope with the new lives each of us has taken on? Such is the tale being told to us in this sharp and witty comedic look at the Nolans, Edward (strongly played by Stef Tovar, who continues to prove his strength in taking on a myriad of characters) and Rebecca (Lisa D. Mortensen is stunning in this role) have each gone on with their lives since their divorce. While Edward has had little success in relationships, Rebecca has found a solid man in Roger ( deftly handled by the always reliable Raymond Fox), a man devoted to her from morning til night.
As the play opens, the two men and in what appears to be a hotel room with a table, and they are sharing drinks. I tell you this as I want to make you aware of a new look that theater companies are using. One set that can be all locations where the action takes place. Do not be confused. Brian Sidney Bembridge (set and lighting) has done a solid job with creating this illusion. The lighting could be altered to center on the area where the action is of greatest import, but that is secondary to the strength of the script, the direction and the superb acting. FYI- the title does have meaning- Many of us have been on waterways when we see a sign that says “No Wake”, meaning do not create waves or to slow down. Think about this as you enter the theater and as the play progresses, it will make even more sense.
As these men talk and learn more about each other, we begin to see that they have been brought together by an unknown source. As the story progresses, we learn that there was indeed a death, a suicide, and we later learn that the person involved was “Suki” daughter of the Nolans. The story does deal with the guilt trips that parents would take under these circumstances, but we also learn about some of the good times they shared. While the subject matter is indeed tragic, the presentation is filled with comic touches as all three of our main characters take a step back and look at themselves and their relationships. Donnelly takes a close and hard look at the process of grieving and how even a couple that has ceased to care about each other, may, in fact, still feel the need to be with the other and to reach out to the other for hope for a future.
There is a fight scene (fight choreography by John Tovar) that will leave your sides splitting. Fox and Tovar are hysterical. For anyone over 45, this is even more fun! One of the things that makes this show so adorable is the realism that is written into the script and the portrayals by the actors. Fox is by far one of the greatest at portraying Englishmen with the pitch-perfect accent. He also is great at dry comedy. Tovar, can do more with a look than many actors can do with a two page monologue. The scenes between the two men are worth the price of the ticket on their own, but the entire show is an experience that you should try to fit into your theater schedule.
On the tech side, I also want to say that the costumes (Alarie Hammock), sound and music (Mikhail Fiskel) and props (Bronte DeShong) all add to this sparkling one hour and twenty minutes (no intermission) of theater. While there may be a few confusing spots at the onset, as the story progresses, it will all make sense and be understandable. Remember, part of this is to avoid the set changes allowing the audience to continue to keep involved in the story. To get your opportunity to see this production, which will only run thru February 7th, I would rush to order my tickets now.
The production has performances at The Greenhouse Theater Center, downstairs Main Stage located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue thru February 7th with performances as follows:
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m.
Tickets are $35 adults and $20 students. Call 773-404-7336 or visit www.greenhousetheater.org
To learn more about this company, visit www.route66theatre.org
There is street parking in the area as well as garage parking at the Garage (used to be Children’s Memorial Hospital Garage). Bring your ticket for validation.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “”No Wake”