Silk Road Rising, one of Chicago’s growing theater companies, one that has of course, the Asian mindset in bringing productions to its stage, loaced in the loop’s Chicago Temple Building, has commissioned a new work, one written by a young, brilliant writer, Rajiv Joseph ( an Indian/American, not an American Indian) who uses his dual identity and the problems that are often connected to bring us a beautifully told story, “The Lake Effect”. The story is about a dysfunctional family, living in Cleveland Ohio. They are Indian’s, with the two children born and raised in Cleveland and more “American” than Indian. The father owns an Indian restaurant and some 15 years prior, an auto accident, took the life of his wife, injured the daughter and changed the relationship of this family.
The play begins in the present as the son is reviewing the books of the restaurant. It is 15 years later, The son, Vijay ( a solid performance by Adam Poss) is in deep thought when the door opens and in comes Bernard ( deftly handled by Mark Smith). Vijay tells Bernard that the restaurant is closed, but Bernard, a regular ( as we are about to find out) just goes to his table and reviews his daily sports page. He is waiting to see his “good friend” Vinnie ( the father). As the scene progresses, we learn that Bernard knows a great deal about the history of this family, but for some reason was unaware of Vinnie even having a son. He knows of a daughter, a somewhat misguided daughter,Priya ( Minita Gandhi) who has moved to Florida, and married and possibly divorced. All of this information is a complete surprise to Vijay.
During this solid 90 minutes of story-telling, we learn a great deal about the relationship between brother and sister since the death of their mother. When the father dies, they find that the will he left behind leaves nothing to them at all, but rather to this stranger who claims to be best friends with their father. There are some twists and turns in this plot, which I will not relate to you as I would not want to break the excellent flow of the action as directed skillfully by Timothy Douglas. Dan Stratton’s restaurant set is one that truly represents a run down area restaurant, one in a changing neighborhood that barely looks appetizing. The lighting ( Sarah Hughey) is perfect and Rick Sims’ sound and the props (Jesse Gaffney) are the final touches to making this show as beautiful as it is. Of course, the key ingredient for making a story easy to follow is a solid script and good direction along with actors who truly understand the characters they are bringing off the page into reality ( at least for 90 minutes). This show has all that!
As we learn about the brother and sister and their family, we see that this doesn’t have to be an Indian family, it could be any family, of any cultural upbringing. The fact that Bernard is an African American/Black only enters into the story later in the story as one of the sub-plots. Yes, this is a web of relationships and conflicts, but to be truthful, at least for me, it could have been a Jewish family, an Irish family or any family that had the conflicts. The story does look at the differences that are felt relative to gender and race differences as well as successes, but again, it could be any race or nationality involved and the story would play just as well. What evolves in Mr. Joseph’s story is that the characters become different as the story goes on and despite all the differences, they do find a happy medium and a way to co-exist, as a new family unit- a beautiful story and a happy ending.
“The Lake Effect” will continue at Silk Road Rising through May 26th with a performance schedule as follows:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 4 p.m.
Sundays at 4 p.m.
The Theater is located at 77 West Washington Street ( at Clark St) in the lower level of The Historic Chicago Temple Building.
Tickets are $35 ( a small price for theater of this quality) and can be ordered by calling the box office at 312-857-1234 ext 201 or online at www.silkroadrising.org
There is discounted parking at Self Park located at 230 West Washington)- bring your ticket to the theater for validation $8.00
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click on “The Lake Effect”