Escape From Happiness

By George F. WalkerESCAPE-FROM-HAPPINESS by walker

Directed by Genevieve Thompson

Produced by Infamous Commonwealth Theatre

At Raven Theatre’s West stage

Absudist dark comedy isn’t funny, just silly-stupid

Infamous Commonwealth Theatre company is know for finding terrific plays and mounting them with high production values. But not this time. When the best thing about a play is the set (designed by Kathy Arfken), you know the work is in trouble! I can’t understand why they chose anything by Canadian playwright George F. Walker to mount? He may be the worst playwright to find his plays on stage that I’ve ever encountered. His Escape From Happiness is a raucous kitchen sink dark comedy that not only isn’t funny but it is a silly-stupid over-written, convoluted and totally irritating waste of time.

escape from happiness

This 2 hours, 35 minute work wears us out with long kooky conversational tangents, goofy characters that we find more irritating than funny. The plot is a meandering series of confrontational scenes that try to mock and satirize every possible family, social, and interpersonal relationship characteristic  know to man. Filled with a group of dysfunctional and unlikable characters led by hyper-talkative family matriarch, Nora (Barbara J Anderson), we meet a series of losers, neurotics, petty criminals, wound-too-tight cops all trying to cope with inevitable confrontations.

The characters are over-written, over-played moving the work from an absurdist comedy to a wordy stupid, much too long, viciously eccentric failure. The cast works hard to make this impossible material stage worthy. The result is complete silliness that made me embarrassed for the talented cast.¬† Unfortunately, Walker’s goofy work needs serious edits and a refocus. Infamous Commonwealth Theatre will bounce back, don’t give up on them.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

At Raven Theatre’s West Stage, 6157 N. Clark, Chicago, IL,call 312, 458-9780, tickets $20, $15 senior/student, www.infamouscommonwealth.org, Thursdays thu Saturdays at 8:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission.