Directed by Shade Murray
As part of the Steppenwolf Theatre’s
First Look – a repertory of new work
Promising drama fizzles in the second act
Playwright Janine Nabers’ new work, Annie Bosh is Missing, is a vivid look at the effects of addiction from the point of view of a 22 year old woman just out of rehab. From an affluent Huston family, Annie (Caroline Neff) lives with her ever-suspicious mother (Jennifer Avery) and her closet addict twin brother Patrick (David Seeber). Both don’t trust Annie since they worry about her using again that could lead to another suicide attempt. Annie is desperate to move on with her life but her survival is filled with road blocks.
She can only find work at a bowling alley for some unexplained reason. See meets a nice guy, Ned (Ian Paul Custer) her boss at the alley. Anne has a choking sexual fetish that involves a black man that we find out refers to her black father who abounded the family years ago. See Anne as she meets with her old girl friend who is still an addict now with a child. Mother and Patrick are constantly spying on Annie who slips out of their subdivision to explore the post-Katrina mean streets of Huston where refugees add danger.
It isn’t clear what Annie is looking for. Act one sets up an interesting agenda but unfortunately the play fizzles in act two. Anne Bosh is Missing wonders adrift and ends up with a series of melodramatic resolutions. While it is fine not to tie up all lose ends in a play. a playwright must not leave major items unresolved or resolved in a preposterous or cliched manner. Without giving away too much,let me state that the promise of Anne Bosh is Missing let me down as it wondered to its unsatisfactory ending. This work need a refocus and a stronger second act. The subtext of racist creeps out in inappropriate way here. Since the story hinges on Anne, throwing in a racially violent scene seems a stretch. Also, we are left hanging as to the power and effects of Anne’s strangled-by- a -black -man fetish. Caroline Neff is terrific as Annie.
This work could be stage worthy with a more cohesive second act; it shouldn’t wander into cliched resolutions. Janine Nabers has the germ of an idea here, it only needs to be flushed out.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2013
At the Steppenwolf Theatre Garage, 1624 N. Halsted, Chicago, Il, tickets $20 – $15 for students, www.steppenwolf.org, click on the First Look link.