Directed by Sarah Moeller
At Collaboraction Theatre, Chicago
Manipulative road trip father-son play fizzles due to playwright trickery
Playwright Dan LeFranc seems to like to play with our trust in his plays. That is the case with his Sixty miles to Silver Lake– a father-son relationship drama that ultimately get lost in a time warp. We meet Ky (Sean Bolger), the estranged divorced father who is driving to his home in Silver Lake, California with his son Denny (Ethan Dubin) on their weekend visits. The two are alienated by a bitter divorce that finds Denny only spending weekends with his dad, Ky. On their sixty mile journey from Denny’s soccer game to Ky’s home, the two awkwardly try to communicate but bitterness and teenage angst get in the way. Denny resents his father who tries, fumbles actually, to relate to his son. Ky is totally out of touch with Denny and the more he tries, the more resistant and awkward Denny feels. There are many funny and poignant moments filled with natural dialogue that gets us to hope that Ky will somehow relate to young Denny.
Ethan Dubin, who looks 15 years old, is so believable with his rolling eyes, and kid-like mannerism that we feel for his gawky attempts to assert his will on his fearsome father. Sean Bolger plays the estranged father, Ky, with a frustrated father-like melancholy all to often experienced by divorced fathers. The play starts to go beyond the mire drive to Silver Lake as each have their moments communicating and agreeing on basic survival techniques that will allow them to share positive experiences. But, after much repetitious scenes, we realize that this play may be a memory play from Denny’s point of view. The work gets bogged down with surreal repetitive dialogue that seems to come from the car radio or as Denny’s thoughts come alive. What?
It seems that playwright LeFranc got so stuck as to what would resolve the complex relationship between Denny and Ky that he copes out with hints of a car wreck or some vague tragic event before ending the work with a loving, kick-the soccer-ball scene on a snowy mountain top. Really? Too bad terrific acting by Bolger and especially the talented Ethan Dubin was spoiled by the preposterous playwright manipulation. If you can get over this tricks, there are many insightful moments into the maddening world of contemporary father-son relationships.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 23, 2012
For more info checkout the Sixty Miles to Silver Lake page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, www.collaboraction.org, tickets $15 – 425, Thgursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, special Monday shows on May 14 & 21 at 8pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through May 27, 2012