By Erik Gernand
Directed by Patrick Kenney
Produced by The Fine Print Theatre Company
At the Profiles Alley Stage, Chicago
Refreshing view of a contemporary family dynamic plays well
Playwright Erik Gernand’s new work, A Place in the Woods, comes after his terrific The Beautiful Dark recently at Redtwist Theatre. He sure has a refreshing take on family and his current show, now playing at Profiles’ Alley Stage, features another collection of modern characters struggling with current problems with past traumas still emerging into the present.
Shaun (James Bould) is forced to leave Chicago and return to small town Indiana with his son Alex (Jacob Bond) due to his mother’s quirky actions as Alzheimer’s takes its toll on her. Officer Cherry (Natasha Tsoutsouris) found mother (Barbara Berndt) wondering on a road in her night gown and slippers. Brady and Alex must intervene asShaun’s’ brother Brady (Mike Rice)) is no where to be found. Someone must constantly look after mother.
Teenage Alex is learning both about his gay father and the small town family dynamic since he has joined his father on this emergency trip to Indiana. Once Brady shows up, old family wounds emerge as we see the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s on the entire family. Brady is trying to put his life together while also trying to look after mother. Shaun tries to instill into his son Alex toleration and morals while shielding him from old family secrets. Alex is keen to know about his father’s past in Indiana. Add Shaun’s old prom date (Officer Cherry) and we have the past actions directly affecting present dilemmas.
When Shaun discovers that mother is going to lose her house, thing come to a head as each family member must confront past deeds while young Alex learns about his father’s past. I’ll not spoil things but this family story is well crafted and quite plausible. Modern views of gay life is reflected from the 1980’s when small town reaction to the gay lifestyle breed intolerance.
The entire cast was quite engaging with particular fine work by Natasha Tsoutsouris and Jacob Bond, a Evanston High School junior. Bond sure has a nice future as an actor; he is polished and professional beyond his years! A Place in the Woods is most stage worthy
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 5, 2014
For more info checkout the A Place in the Woods page at theateeinchicago.com
At Profile’s Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago,IL, tickets $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through May 4, 2014