By Jessica Goldberg
Directed by Will Crouse
Produced by Poor Theatre Company
At Rivendell Theatre, Chicago
Contrived plot and uneven acting hurt kitchen sink drama
Poor Theatre Company Chicago premiere of Jessica Goldberg’s Good Thing doesn’t live up to its name. It parallels two dysfunctional families -one a middle aged childless couple struggling with a twenty year unhappy marriage and the other – a twenty-something married couple living in squalor with a drug using younger brother. Dean (Dillon Kelleher) is the ex-high school scholar who now works construction after marrying Mary (Abbey Smith) when she got pregnant. Because she is a meth addict, she is kept locked in her room all day while Dean is working. Bobby (Michael Medford) is Dean’s brother and himself a heavy meth addict, amazingly, Dean has Bobby as Mary’s keeper. When Dean decides to meet an old flame, Liz (Alex Fisher), both Bobby and Mary are concerned.
Next, we learn about the old relationship between Dean and Liz that was more about intellectual interests. Hah? Of course, the two have sex and then Liz decides to more into Dean’s shack with the two addicts. Preposterous!
We also learn about the unhappy marriage that led John Roy (Doug Schuetz) to drink and have a fling with one of his students (he’s a high school counselor). Nancy Roy (Melonie Collmann) is an intercity teacher. John’s drinking and infidelity and the absence of any children lead to an estrangement that threatens their marriage.
After having sex with Dean, Liz concocts a scheme that frees up Dean to leave with her by convincing Mary and Dean to give up the baby to Nancy and John. Since Mary is an addict not willing to give up drugs to raise her baby. Dean seems cold to the idea of raising the child, Liz gets Dean, Mary and Bobby to meet with the Roy’s. The eventual denouement is melodramatic and totally unsatisfactory.
My main trouble with Good Thing is the characterization of Dean. Dillion Kelleher plays him as a quiet unassuming fellow who easily tolerates his brother’s meth addiction and allows his pregnant wife to be locked up while he is away. When he explodes with anger, it seems false. And, why would he bring his old flame home after having sex with her. Dean is so full of contradictions that he is not believable. I could go on and on with the empty implausible plot lines that could only happen because that’s the way playwright Goldberg wrote them. I’ll not reveal more.
Add the uneven acting that found Michael Medford writhing from the pain of needing a fix as her rolled about the floor only to be ignored to John’s tepid turn as a charismatic school counselor and the Good Thing becomes a production lacking in empathetic characters who behavior unrealistically. The Good Thing is a weak play and the actors and director Will Crouse have not figured out how to make it stage worthy. I’d skip this one.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed; October 28, 2013
For more info checkout the Good Thing page at theatreinchicago.com
At Rivendell Theatre, 5770 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL, tickets $10 -$15, Thursdays thru Sundays at 8 pm, running time is 1 hour 55 minutes with intermission, through November 16, 2013