By Sam Shepard
Directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia
Produced by Mary-Arrchie Theatre
At Angel Island, Chicago
Dark comedy unfolds into manic parody of gangster life
Director Carlo Lorenzo Garcia has cast superbly in his production of Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer. Manic gangster Santee (Mark Vallarta) is so over-the-top as the short tempered keeper of cowboy Cody (Gavin Robinson) that, at first, I wasn’t sure if Dreamer was an authentic gangster drama or a dark comic parody. But Vallarta’s manic outbursts gave me a major hint.
This quirky play is 85 minutes of weird dark comedy. Santee and his benevolent sidekick Beaujo (Rudy Galvan) have spent months hiding their abducted horse dreamer, Cody, whose amazing ability to dream the winners of horse races before the races occur is becoming mute. Cody hasn’t scored a winner in more than six months making the mob boss, Fingers (Kevin Stark) quite upset. Santee fears violence from Fingers if they can’t get Cody to resume his dream skills.
Once Cody starts dreaming winners after Santee suggests he focus on greyhound dog races, Cody’s skills provide more winners. The real fun begins when Fingers and his commanding Doctor (Matt Rockwood) arrive at the hotel. We see how weird Fingers is and how fearsome the Doctor really is. The quirky parody is rich in terrific acting, especially from Gavin Robinson who moves from frighten cowboy to Irish dog breeder to a dog itself. Kevin Stark is terrific as the absurd gangster while Matt Rockwood is eerily effective has the insane doctor determined to harvest all dreamer’s energy by removing their body parts so he can have their energy. This show is effectively wacky and the performers seem to be having a good time with their characters. Dreamer is an enticing, highly engaging one act that will keep you guessing.
At Angel Island, 735 W. Sheridan, Chicago, IL, 773-871-0442. Tickets $15 – $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm , Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 85 minutes with intermission.