By Christian O’Reillynorthlight theatre

Directed by BJ Jones

At Northlight Theatre, Skokie in a co-production with Galway Arts Festival

Heartwarming episode about the lives of two animal-loving lonely seniors is a sweet treat

When Irish playwright Christian O ‘Reilly penned Chapatti, he had John Mahoney in mind to play Dan so he sent the script to Mahoney who gladly agreed to play the role in Skokie and at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland. When Penny Slusher agreed to play Betty, the cast for Chapatti was complete. Under BJ Jones’ watchful eye, Chapatti unfolds as a sweet, often funny, look at the lives of two lonely animal-lovers  as each quietly yearn for human companionship. Jack Magaw’s minute set depicting two small Dublin room complete with a surrounding path and a nice skyline.

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John Mahoney

Dan (John Mahoney) is a senior living alone who consumes his time with his  (imaginary) terrier dog, Chapatti. His daily ritual is to make tea, then asking Chapatti if he wants canned or dry dog food-or – a combination? Next, he takes his dog for a long walk often ending up at the local veterinarian for a unneeded checkup.  Dan is  more than lonely as he is trying to find a home for Chapatti since he has decided to leave Dublin for good. He puts an ad on the board at the vet’s office offering to give away Chapatti.

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We also meet Betty (Penny Slusher), another animal-lover with nineteen cats who also yearns for human companionship. Her cute manner and her amiability make her a most empathetic and funny soul. When the two meet by chance after we spend enough time with both to grow to like each as we commensurate with their  plight, we hope that they become an item.

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Dan is a passive person bent on playing out his melancholy but Betty is a slyly aggressive soul who is smitten by Dan. She finds excuses to visit him and to get his help. The subtle sparks fly between the seniors as they begin to realize that don’t have to be alone and that being connected with humans is more gratifying than the safe interaction only with animals.

Chapatti is a warm, gentle story demonstrating that love and romance can happen again even after many years. This wonderfully charming two-hander is both hopeful and uplifting. John Mahoney and Penny Slasher render two of the most heartfelt and empathetic performances seen on a Chicago area stage in years! Credit Christian O’ Reilly with writing a gentle, sublime and honest script that drills home the need for and the power of human companionship. While dogs and cats can aid us thought the lonely rough spots in our loves, there is no substitute for tender human connections. Gaining love and romance, at any age, is the ultimate joy we can hope for. Does Betty get Dan into a relationship? See this sweet 90 minute one act to find out. Their journey is worth taking with them.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 15, 2015

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Chapatti page at

At Northlight Theatre, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL, call 847-673-6300,, tickets $25 – $75,  Tuesdays thru Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 & 7 pm with Wednesdays matinees at 1 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through April 13, 2014

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