MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Bright Half Life

Chicago Premiere.

By Tanya Barfield.

Directed by  Keira Fromm.

Produced by About Face Theatre.

At Theater Wit, Chicago.




LOVE in freefall…

Brilliant, energetic, and honest acting fuels a clever, well-developed script.

About Face Theatre and director Keira Fromm have mounted Tanya Barfield’s hyper lesbian relationship drama, Bright Half Life with two of Chicago’s top “A” list actors: Elizabeth Ledo, as Erica, and Patrese D. McClain, as Vicky. These two  gave tour de force performances in a complex, often funny, relationship drama covering the complete cycle of a life-loong relationship. The manic paced, high energy work is told in short choppy scenes and fragmented scenes that were a series of memories that we witness from both women’s point of view. This 90 minute whirlwind grabs us instantly and never lets us go until the end.

This memory play starts out in time order as we see how and when Erica and Vicky meet, become an item, move in together, adopt children and eventually marry. This multilevel play is told in flashbacks, flashforwards, dreams and fantasies. This play grabs us and makes us follow the disjointed memories because we like and care about both characters. We learn about their foibles, wants and desires as in  most relationships, one or the other holds the power, as the stakes shift as the power shifts. Early on Erica is tha aggresive one yet once thwy are committed, Vicky becomes incharge of most events.

The dynamic of the power shifts as each woman struggles with personal independence in balance with family committmenst. This is a refreshubgly honest and often funny work that features two marvelous actors at the top of their art. Playwright Tanya Barfield created such fully developrd characters who director Keira Fromm has superbly cast. Elizabeth Ledo is the quirky, butch white woman who is attracted to Patrese D. McClain, an African-American femine intectual. Erica is the idealist and Vicky the practical one. These two make use of the set designed by William Boles and the lighting by Christine Binder as they remember things like elevator rides, to steamy workplace romances to the heartache of building and the trauma of establishing a family.

The combination of the smart writing and the terrific stage and the fabulous acting make Bright Half Life as gem of a theatricak experience. This is one of the best shows of the year. Get to Theater Wit to ride alonf with Vicky and Erica as they remember events from their lives. You’ll be reminded of memories in your life.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call773-975-8150,, tickets $40,$20 seniors.students, Wed. Thur, Fri, & sat at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without an intermission.