In a Forest, Dark and Deep

By Neil LaButein a forest, dark and deep

Directed by Joe Jahraus

At Profiles Theatre’s Main Stage, Chicago

Well-structured LaBute play introduces audiences to Profiles’ new space on Broadway

Neil LaBute trusts Profiles Theatre with his works, allowing them access to several Chicago premieres. Profiles, in turn, has mounted LaBute’s works with a keen understanding of the playwright’s intent. That is faithfully the case with his latest work – In a Forest, Dark and Deep. It is a dark and stormy night in the woods at a cabin. Betty (Natasha Lowe) is packing items belonging to the last renter of her rural cabin. She is joined by her estranged brother, Bobby (Darrell W. Cox) with whom she called for help after several years of estrangement. Bobby arrives to help her pack and to find out all the truths behind the strange call for help.

In a forest, dark and deep at profiles theatre

We learn that Bobby is a crude, ignorant wife-beating slob who dislikes his sister. We see Betty as a college dean and aging married with children beauty who has a past enlivened with much promiscuity. Betty’s sexual encounters still haunt her. As the two siblings rant at one another gradually Bobby gets to the truth of why he is helping his sister clear out a cabin late night during a thunder storm. The cabin is full of lies as nothing is as it seems and the truth refuses to be discarded with all the books.

LaBute’s psychological thriller moves from suspenseful to a mystery as the  conflict gets us to first empathize with Betty then with Bobby than more truths get us wondering. I’ll say no more but I admire the play’s structure nimbly performed by Cox and Lowe. Lies versus the truth and how living each can complicate life is deftly presented. The rage and the chemistry between Darrell W. Cox and Natasha Lowe is honest and palatable. Cox moving from crude slob to honorably in search of the truth is marvelously performed as is Lowe’s transformation from loving wife and scholar to  deceitful promiscuous woman living lies.

This 90 minute dark mystery unravels in tortured conflict that will surprise you as your loyalties shift  from brother to sister and back again. Will the truth really set anyone free? See this show and you be the judge. It is 90 minutes of smart, nicely acted theatre.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 26, 2012

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the In a Forest, Dark and Deep page at theatreinchicago.com

At Profiles Theatre’s The Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, www.profliestheatre.org, tickets $35 -$40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through June 3, 2012