Tuesday January 23rd 2018

“Our Dad Is In Atlantis”

Highly Recommended  Try to imagine being a Pre-teenage boy, who along with your brother is sent off to Grandma’s house while your recently widowed dad goes off to seek a job in what he believes to be “The promise land”. You are in charge of your 8 year old brother during this journey through life in a rural town in Mexico, where  the only people you know are family ( and  just barely)! This is the journey that we are taken on in Javier Malpica’s powerful “Our Dad Is In Atlantis” with a translation by Jorge Ignacio Cortinas.  Two boys, Big Brother ( Todd Garcia) and Little Brother ( Remy Ortiz), ages 11 and 8 , are dropped off in a rural Mexican community. We get to observe the relationship that becomes stronger as they learn to rely on one another through all the trials and tribulations that they face. While the actors that Director Ann Filmer works with are adults, it only takes a few moments fro them to become the little boys that they are supposed to be. Garcia, gives us the feeling of an older brother, about to become a teenager who is saddled taking care of his little brother ( a stunningly brilliant performance by Ortiz, who shows all the innocence of an 8 year old that fears for his future and wat will become of him) after having recently dealt with the death of his mother and now  his father taking off for unknown places in America.

We watch these brothers relate to  each others dreams, fears and desires, but of greatest importance, we watch them deal with facing the unknown as they live in new surroundings with family that is unfamiliar to them. During this period, Big  Brother becomes the “man” and as protective as he is, he controls Little Brother through fears of the devil and that they will never see their father again. In this lovely tale of two brothers becoming friends as well as siblings, Filmer uses very little in the way of set or even props, but instead uses the words written by Malpica and the skill of these talented actors along with some wonderful background music by Barry Bennett. This production is 75 minutes of pure magic as  Little Brother discovers himself and his love for baseball and his older brother. Big Brother, learning of his father being in Atlanta takes his little brother on a bus ride to find him and along the way, when fear strikes, they end up in the dessert walking together towards finding their lost life as a family. As they tire, they rest and as the evning grows darker and their future dimmer, they fall asleep, resting upon each other in a closeness that is unlike any other feeling they have had for each other. And that is how the play ends, leaving us with some questions to answer for ourselves- do the boys ever make it to Atlanta to find their dad and gow up as a family unit? Do they end up lost in the dessert only to not survive? Malpica either leaves the door open for a sequel or allows us to find the ending that is most comfortable for us to feel is the right ending for these two characters who we have become very close to.

Live theater is designed to entertain and educate and often to allow our brains to think- this production does it all! 16th Street Theater is an intimate little gem of a venue far off-loop but always worth the drive to Berwyn, just a short drive from Chicago, located at 6420 West 16th Street ( 4 blocks west of Austin Blvd) with lots of free parking and a couple of local eateries right on the street. “Dad” will continue through May 21st with performances as follows:

Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m.

Tickets are a mere $18.00 and can be purchased at the Berwyn Cultural Center, by phone at 708-795-6704 or online at www.16thstreettheater.org

Student RUSH tickets , subject to availability ( the house seats around 50) are at $10 ( purchased on day of show only)

If you are on a limited budget but want quality theater, you will find it in Berwyn!   

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