By John Walch.
Directed by Jacob Harvey.
Produced by Solo Celebration Series
At the Greenhouse Theater Center, Chicago.
Strange script marvelously performed by Will Allan.
Circumference Of A Squirrel is a strange play to select for the Solo Celebration Series since it only fits one of the three elements that make for terrific solo plays. Will Allan, a young actor with amazing talents and brave enough to try to garner all the humor and irony contained in playwright John Walch’s script does fine work here.. Allen works hard with Circumference Of A Squirrel. Its the script that I found not worthy of Allan’s talent. The laughs are few, the repetitive script has too much minute detail often repeated rendering more information than necessary.
In this 75 minute one-act solo show, it takes too long to get to Walch’s theme – Chester’s hatred for his repressive antisemitic father. He speaks to his bringing up and his marriage through use of heavy-handed symbols from his youth. An inter tube, a bagel, a lifesaver candy, a holiday wreath, a tire-swing, a cycle of abuse, and, of course, a squirrel. Filled with rich details, Chester explains his life and his intolerant legacy while trying for humor but mostly he devolves into that all-consuming world of hatred and self loathing.
The first few scenes finds some humor as we learn to like Chester as we laugh at his adventures with his father and squirrels. But as the story moves forward, we see how the family abuse effects his marriage with a Jewish girl – a no-no in a Catholic family.
As the 75 minute drama unfolds, we see Will Allan sinking in to hatred that becomes rage as things happen to his father. This performance was honest and heartfelt. Allan demonstrates his depth as an actor as he moves from cute, humorous memories of his youth to the self loathing and rage-filled reaction to his father’s demise. Circumference Of A Squirrel’s only reason to be mounted is to show off Will Allan’s acting chops. The play is a downer with little humor and a negative resolve. Too bad they didn’t find a more worthy script for Allan! It is my belief that the best formula for solo shows calls for: one, a terrific actor; two, a engaging script; three, the character should be either a historical character or a celebrity. Think Churchill or Rose or Give ’em Hell, Harry! Here only Will Allan’s fine performance makes Circumference Of A Squirrel worth seeing.
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2017.
For more info checkout the Circumference Of A Squirrel page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, tickets $34 – $40, Wednesdays thru Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through February 12, 2017.