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Assisted Living

By Deirde O’Connorassisted living logo Assisted Living

Directed by Joe Jahraus

Produced by Profiles Theatre

At the Second Stage Theatre, Chicago

Tender and realistic look at problems of caring for a parent and finding one’s self

In a departure from the raw and grizzle works they normally produce, Profiles Theatre, under the tight direction of Joe Jahraus, have mounted a realistic drama about a family coming to grips with caring for an aging parent. We meet four characters, each flawed but human, as each struggles to define one’s self as obligations conflict with personal needs.

Anne (Stacy Stoltz in a quietly powerful performance) is the near 40 year old daughter struggling to find love as well as caring for her dementia-stricken mother. Mother bites and screams as she drive away any care-giver Anne finds. With her immature brother Jimmy not helping care for mother (he doesn’t even answer Anne’s calls), Anne is stricken with the total responsible of  mother. Anne never moved out of the family home.

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We see Anne interviewing Levi (a strong performance by Jordan Stacey) an honest yet blunt young man with a short history of being a home care worker. Levi is sweet, a tad dim-witted but determined to help Anne with her mother’s care. Anne hires Levi to assist mother. Levi and Anne slowly develop glimmers of romance as  Levi’s help extends to household chores. Levi tries hard for his first successful job.

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We meet Jimmy (Layne Manzer) a 30something loser incapable of an adult action. He leaves Anne to be the adult responsible for mother and the house. Once he moves back in and his pregnant girlfriend Christina (Shannon Hollander) arrives unannounced, the family turmoil erupts.

This nicely plotted drama is full of surprises that I’ll not reveal but as each character gets fully flushed out, we see how each character changes how they define themselves. Becoming an a adult has nothing to do with age as this tightly drawn drama so nicely shows. The fine cast produced two standout performances – Stacy Stoltz and the charmingly intense Jordan Stacey.  The dilemma of responsibility for an aging family versus personal needs is vividly dramatized in this suspenseful play. It sure is worthy seeing.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: November 12, 2011

Jeff Recommended

For full show information, check out the Assisted Living  page at Theatre In Chicago.

At the Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815,  www.profilestheatre.org, tickets $35 – $40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through December 18, 2011

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