Fallow

 

By Kenneth Linstreep theatre

Director Keira Fromm

At Steep Theatre, Chicago

Heartfelt drama about the search for meaning in the lives of most empathetic characters works with subtle power

Fal-low: pale-yellow or light-brown in color

What makes Kenneth Lin’s Fallow so compelling, besides the multilayer  themes, are the three main performances. Led my the most likable utterly charming work by Brendan Meyer as Aaron- the 20 year old who leaves Cornell and the trappings of the Ivy League and wealth to a journey of self-discovery in the search for meaning and purpose in life.  Aaron’s work with bees and migrant farm workers teaches him the foibles of real life. His tanned face and full beard together with his proximity to Mexican fruit pickers lead to a violent death at the hands of a racist twosome.

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The second anchor to Lin’s tale is the anguish-ridden work by Kendra Thulin as the grief-stricken mother to Aaron. She leaves her life of opulence to retrace Aaron movements from the letters he wrote but never mailed. She received them after Aaron’s death from one of his Mexican friends.

The third anchor was by Jose Antonio Garcia who play Happy-who Aaron befriended in Texas. Aaron taught Happy the way of the bees and Happy taught Aaron the ways of itinerant farm works. Full acceptance and trusting friendship was both Aaron ‘s and  Happy’s personality traits.

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Fallow is told in a flashback as Aaron narrates his letter to Elizabeth, his mother. Early on, we see how loving and tolerant Aaron is by how gently he treats Chloe (Anne Joy), a plus size woman sent to him by his Frat brothers. Aaron’s gentleness and unconditional acceptance is vividly demonstrated with a sincere kiss with Chloe. After a summer working with bees, Aaron rejects college and starts his real-life adventures with the bee hives. In Texas,  three life-changing events happen to Aaron. First, he is let go by the bee hive owner; second, he decides to start his own bee hive farm to harvest honey; third, he meet Happy. That is when Aaron learns to ways of the produce-picking workers, he bonds with Happy and executes an amazing act of altruism by giving Happy (and his family) a generous amount of money.

But, when Happy meets Elizabeth, Aaron’s mother, another dynamic unfolds. Both Elizabeth and Happy form a unique bond as both are searching for meaning in Aaron’s death. Closure rings out as Happy escorts Elizabeth on her journey to retrace Aaron’s last steps in California.

There is  dignity to this story as we empathize and learn to love Aaron; respect Happy and grieve with Elizabeth. The depth the Meyer’s Aaron, Garcia’s Happy and Thulin’s Elizabeth reach through their lives makes Fallow a compelling drama. The themes of hope, total acceptance and the search for one’s place in life are effectively presented. Aaron and Happy put faces on hopeful individuality that seem to emerge despite the ugliness of society.  Fallow is heartfelt, well written, and nicely staged and acted play that will leave you glad you meet Aaron and Happy.  Ultimately, Fallow is Brendan Meyer’s play. His strong yet understated performance was outstanding. This guy has a bright future.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Jeff Recommended

Date Reviewed: July 18, 2013

For more info checkout the Fallow page at theatreinchicago.com

At Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn, Chicago, IL, call 773-649-3186,www.steeptheatre.com, tickets $20 -$22, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 4pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through August 17, 2013