Genius

A World Premiere Playgenius-7043

By Kate Walbert

Directed by Darrell W. Cox

At Profiles Theatre’s Alley Stage, Chicago

Short, unfocused and confusing drama not ready for the stage

Novelist/playwright Kate Walbert’s four person play presents is an incomplete work that, after only 70 minutes,  a becomes a ” so what”? We wonder why we listened to the two married couples whine and argue about their creative endeavors, their relationships and the status.

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We meet the older couple, Joel (Robert Breuler), an artist turned museum director who creates a scandal by sending on Facebook a photo of (supposedly) his penis. Joel is an over weight senior who drinks too much wine. His wife Sara (LIz Zwelfler) is a novelist who has a love/hate relationship with her husband. She is also an adviser to the folks who dole out the “Genius” grants. Somehow before and during and after, (the timelines are needlessly distorted) a dinner with their younger film making couple, Peter (Cale Haupert) and Charlotte (Stephanie Chavara), a debate occurs  pitting   the older couple versus the younger couple and the men versus the women. Who is more creative and who (man or woman) who is the dominant one in a relationship and who is the stronger person in a relationship.

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Joel is losing his position, Sara is empowered to help pick the next “Genius” grant and Charlotte is struggling with balancing her responsibilities as a mother-to-be with her film making career. Peter and Joel struggle with insecurity issues. Too much wine fuels the deconstruction of the evening for both couples. The uncertainty of both couple’s future is debated.

I found the timelines and flashback’s needlessly confusing and the many movement of furniture and the  wall bed distracting. All the speechifying, especially by Joel and Sara as well as the indirect exposition by Peter to be repetitious and wordy. Since I didn’t really care much for any of these bohemian characters, their whining and foibles bored me more than engaged me. This play is underwritten and the switching back and forth didn’t help clarify things. If it wasn’t for the worthy performances by Cale Haupert and Stephanie Chavara, Genius would be a boring yawner. As it plays now, it needs a expanded rewrite. But, there is a worthy play hidden here waiting to get out.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 19, 2015

For more info checkout the Genius page at theatreinchicago.com

At Profiles Theatre’s Alley Stage, 4247 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, www.profilestheatre.org,  tickets $35 -$40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 70 minutes without an intermission, through May3, 2015