Directed by Kimberly Senior
At Next Theatre, Evnston
The nature of memory and how it shapes our present even after 25 years is probed
Amy Herzog’s The Great God Pan is an under written analysis of how our memories can be tricky in shaping our lives. We meet Jamie (Brett Schneider), a thirty-two year old online journalist who lives with his soul mate, Paige (Kristina Valada-Viars). The two have a rocky relationship marked by both having issues despite a deep love. Paige is starting a new career as a nutritionist/counselor as Jamie embarks on a new writing gig.
Out of the blue, Frank (Matt Hawkins) contacts Jamie after 25 years to meet him for coffee. The two meet after not seeing one another since they were age seven. This awkward meeting eventually finds Frank telling Jamie that Frank’s father had sexually abused him when he was quite young. Frank is trying to find out if there were others, particularly Jamie, in order for Frank to make a compelling case against his father.
Jamie, who admits that he has a terrible memory, denies being abused. He strongly has no memories dating back to when he was four years old (the time frame of possible abuse). When Jamie mentions that meeting with Frank to his parents and Paige, he gets unexpected responses from them that leads him to start questioning and probing into his past. Could his present sexual dysfunctional and intimacy issues stem from his past trauma? Does the mind block traumatic memories as a survival mechanism when we are very young? Or are the powers of suggestion in our present lives leading us to worry that something that really didn’t happen actually did. These suggestions can cloud and complicate are ability to cope with our current psychological and emotional health. Trust becomes an issue with Jamie.
The above dilemmas are at the heart of Herzog’s The Great God Pan. This drama isn’t about sexual abuse but rather about how our memories can trick us as well as the nature of suppressed memories affecting our present psyche. Over the curse of this 75 minute one act, we witness Jamie coming to terms with the possibility that he was traumatized in early childhood. We also see how Paige’s own issues play out towards her relations with Jamie. As the mystery evolves, the work abruptly ends leaving us to wonder about the facts. While a play actually doesn’t have to resolve every detail, you’d think we’d get more than was offered? Brett Schneider anchors a cast of fine players. This work will get us debating the implications of memories, both real and suppressed.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 7, 2014
For more info checkout The Great God Pan page at theatreinchicago.com
At Next Theatre at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston, IL, call 847-475-1875 X2, www.nexttheatre.org, tickets $30 – $45, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm,Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through May 11, 2104