On An Average Day

By John Kolvenbachon-an-average-day-spartan theatre

Directed by Ray Frewen

Produced by Spartan Theatre

At the Flat Iron Building, Chicago

Edgy well written and superbly acted two-handed worth seeing

There is a energetic dynamic working from Spartan Theatre at the Flat Iron Building at North Ave., Milwaukee and Damen. Take a smart, edgy drama about two siblings with tight direction by Ray Frewen and deeply emotional and totally honest performances by Patrick Belics and Andy Monson and you get a cutting edge stage worthy contemporary drama. This one hour and thirty-five minute (including intermission) drama will rock your world. It is part brother versus brother relationship drama and part mystery. With hints of Mamet and Shepherd, On An Average Day is anything but ‘average.’ Rather it plays as a tragicomedy with dark humor.

We meet Bob (the terrific Andy Monson) who lives in squalor in the family’s home. Beer cans and old newspapers are scattered about. Bob sits at the kitchen table drinking when a man appears.  Jack (Patrick Belics), enters the kitchen saying nothing with a blank stare. Bob stares back for a few moments until the two siblings finally greet one another. More tension than serenity underscores this meeting. As the two drink beers from a nasty stinking refrigerator, slowly the semi-stoic Jack listens and stares at Bob who is in a hyper-rant about anything and everything. Andy Monson is marvelous in these manically emotional rants. Is Bob more than an admitted sociopath? Hints of a psychopath are in evidence.

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During these wild exchanges we hear the pop’s of beer cans as we realize that Jack is doing fine while Bob appears troubled and in need of help. As we learn about Bob’s criminal trial, Jack coldly states that he has not come to help Bob in any way. So why has Jack returned after many years to the family home? We learn old secrets and  about their father who was both a terrifying and charismatic figure to the boys. Dad left went Jack was fourteen and Bob was eight.

Slowly the drama shifts from Bob’s troubles to Jack’s angst. We sense Jack’s personal image problem. His brown paper bag contains a pistol that looms large in act two. This thriller works effectively because of the deeply truthful and gut wrenching performances by these two wonderfully skilled actors. Andy Monson’s amazing emotional range and Patrick Belics’ subtlety deep torment work together nicely making us believe that they are, indeed, brothers with shared torturous pasts. They evoke the influence from those “sins of the father.”

Without giving away more plot details, let me say that their story and their reactions to events presented are rendered both plausible and honest given the strong characterizations playwright John Kolvenbach created and Belics and Monson marvelously presented. This is a gem performed in the best traditions of gritty honest ‘Chicago-style’ dramatic theatre.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 3, 2015

For more info checkout the On An Average Day page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Flat Iron Building,  at Collaboration Theatre, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, www.spartantheatre.org, tickets $15 the first two week and $20 on the final weekend, Fridays 7 Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3pm with a special 4 pm matinee on Sat. April 4 and no show on Easter Sunday, running time is1 hour 35 minutes with intermission, through April 12, 2015