Directed by Susan E. Bowen
Produced by Pine Box Theatre
At the Greenhouse Theater, Chicago
Gritty, violent story demonstrates that there is no honor among meth producers
Playwright Joshua Rollins, who penned the hit play A Girl with Sun in Her Eyes recently, has another provocative, violent drama set in West Virginia among the poor folks trying to eek out a living manufacturing meth for local consumption. His world premiere, 25 Saints, now playing at the Greenhouse Theater, is drama filled with desperate souls struggling to survive in a hostile place. Using a dilapidated cabin (set by John Ross Wilson), the drama opens with a violent scene that finds two men and a girl struggling with another man who the girl has shot in the stomach. We see the victim being dumped into a wooden chest. This violent opening sets the tone for a taunt, totally amoral tale of the consequences of a life of crime.
Charlie Roedel (Drew Johnson) returns to Appalachia to clean up the mess his brother left behind. Together with his brother’s pal, Tuck (Josh Odor), they are making enough meth to pay off Charlies’s brother’s debt to the corrupt Sheriff (Danny Goldring). This violent saga started when Sammy (Caroline Neff) called Charlie for help upon the disappearance of Charlie’s brother – Sammy’s boyfriend.
We witness the three, Charlie, Sammy and Tuck as they rationalize their murder of Deputy Vance (John Ross Wilson) – the man in the chest. We learn why he was shot and we see how the desperation that living in a place with no jobs and no hope can reduce folks to raw violence. This group must produce a batch of meth to pay the Sheriff by Thursday (its now Tuesday) so that the three can escape to Virginia Beach to live by the ocean. That is Sammy’s dream that Charlie and Tuck now share.
But their plans get shattered by the unexpected arrival of Ms. Duffy (Molly Reynolds) the Sheriff’s partner in crime. Things get more complicated with the arrival later of Sasha (Ashley Neal) their friend who was to let them use her van. Without saying more, let me state that things get wild, shots are fired, people die and plans take strange turns as dreams of love and escape from the hard life become compromised. The action is suspenseful enough that you’ll be on the edge of your seat as plans explode into chaos.
25 Saints is a gritty, well paced, action-packed 75 minute one-act drama that depicts how desperate ignorant people can easily become violent when pushed to their boiling point. It is a grim look into the world of poverty that makes folks resort to crime and violence that we choose to ignore. 25 Saints is filled with powerful, well-executed stage combat and fine acting. Drew Johnson and Caroline Neff were particularly effective. This drama is not for the squeamish nor children. It is emotional, raw and realistic.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February21, 2013
For more info checkout the 25 Saint page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, www.greenhousetheater.org, tickets $25, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 7 & 10 pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through March 31, 2013