By Nick Payne
Directed by Jonathan Berry
At Steep Theatre, Chicago
Quirky British import covers family and global topice
Steep Theatre, over the last few years have championed the works of young emerging British playwrights. There latest English import is Nick Payne’s 2009 If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, billed as a insightful comedy but it sure plays out as a drama. The work, in its Midwest Premiere, is a dysfunctional family saga that deals with a bullied over weight teenage girl, a cold hearted mother, a father obsessed with global warming and a drifter nephew turned teen mentor.
Staged in many short scenes , If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, shows George (the always dependable Peter Moore) as he is lecturing on the little things we can all do to decrease our environmental footprint on the earth. George is so distracted that he hardly has time for his wife, Fiona (Cynthia Marker) or his 15 year old daughter, Anna (Caitlin Looney). These estranged folks suffer from non-communicative behavior to a severe degree.
It takes the arrival of the talkative brother of George, Terry (the terrific Shane Kenyon) to get meaningful communication gong in the family. Despite Fiona arranging for Anna to attend the school where she teaches, Anna still suffers from bullying that led to Anna bitt head a bullying girl that led to Anna getting a 15 day suspension. Terry assumes the role of caretaker/mentor to the withdrawn teen. Slowly, the uncle and niece bound as Terry accepts Anna unconditionally while giving her the needed attention she craves. These scenes could have been stronger if Kenyon, sporting a rich and authentic cockney accent, would slow down his speech a tad. Also, Looney, with a fine British accent need to enunciate much more so as to be better understood. With her only occasionally speaking, better she slows down and punches out her lines that would strengthen her fine performance.
Peter Moore is fine as the father/author only focused on his work to save the planet but oblivious to his wife’s and their daughter’s needs. The troubled Terry is the only one who speaks his mind as he tells George and Fiona what’s on his mind. He is Anna’s savior.
If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet is a quirky work that is empathetic to the bullied Anna while also paying homage to honesty and forthrightness of Terry. He is the only one willing and able to see the value in truthful interpersonal relationships. This simple play is subtly poignant on a global and familiar level. it is worth a look.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 18, 2014
For more info checkout the If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet page at theatreinchicago.com
At Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn, Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, www.steeptheatre.com, tickets #20 – $22, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 100 minutes without intermission, through May 24, 2014