By Erik Gernand
Directed by Josh Altman
At Redtwist Theatre, Chicago
Powerful acting and a razor-sharp script makes The Beautiful Dark a “must see.”
Erik Gernand has worked his script through many outlets with stage readings, etc. That sure has paid off since the world premiere of The Beautiful Dark , now playing a Redtwist Theatre.This drama presents as a powerful story that will leave you shaken to your core. It’ll also leave you guessing if Jacob (Aaron Kirby) is a violent potential mass-murdered or not. This 90 minute one act, under the tight, well-pace direction by Josh Altman, presents the story of Jacob, a recent college dropout -or is he? is Jacob a genius and terrific writer with a vivid imagination or is his hot temper enough for him to do mass violence? Is he plotting something big or is he just being a twenty year old misfit?
Nancy (Jacqueline Grandt), Jocob’s mother tries to nurture, discipline, and investigate her son’s antics. Her determination, with a dose of denial, leads her to a mixed conclusion if her son really is capable of committing mass murder. Charlie (Jacob Bond) is Jacob’s middle school brother who, at first idolize, then fears his older brother. Add the police chief father, Tom (Tommy Lee Johnson), himself with a hot temper, who finds out some startling facts about his son that fuels suspicion that Jacob that he is planning an evil act and The Beautiful Dark unfolds as a suspenseful drama.
It begs questions that no family wants , but needs to address: how do you stop a violent mind? What should you do when all the warning signs are there that your emotionally troubled and apparently sociopath son may express his internal rage outwardly on society. Can anyone stop him before it is too late? Is his play fiction or does it foretell his plan?
Those are the dilemmas facing Nancy as she struggles with Jacob and her own demons (alcohol). We see Charlie, a wonderful performance by high schooler Jacob Bond, grow apprehensive about his older brother. The father uses his cop instincts to move toward worry about his estranged son. Is her or isn’t he planning a mass attack?
Aaron Kirby is marvelous as the potential killer. Kirby plays it both ways giving indications that he could while also expressing a call for help. We are left wondering. Kirby nails several monologues where he recites his short stories that show his outstanding writing skills and his potential volatility. Nice work. Jacqueline Grandt is also terrific here as she plays the mother who uses unconditional love and knowledge of her son as she attempts to help him through his troubles. She eventually must confront her worse fears. But is it too late? See this engrossing play to find out.
I can’t remember see a more ‘finished’ tightly written world premiere that Erik Gernand’s The Beautiful Dark. The character development, the writing (especially Jacob’s short stories) and the plotting here are first class. Gernand is a playwright to be noted.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 1, 2013
For more info checkout The Beautiful Dark page at theatrinichicago.com
At Rewtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-728-7529, www.redtwist.org, tickets $26 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through September 1, 2013