Road

By Jim Cartwrightroad by jim ccartwright

Directed by Richard Stockton Rand

Produced by Ka-Tet Theatre Company

At Stage Left Theatre

Amazing ensemble work does Road justice

A new theatre company, Ka-Tet Theatre, is mostly comprised of Purdue University thespians. They sure love doing large scale ensemble pieces just like the original Steppenwolf Theatre folks. They selected Jim Cartwright’s 1987, Road, a dark drama about the low-life losers  stuck in dead end lives in Lancashire, England.  Told in a series of vignettes, Road is set in recession reeling England where a vagrant Scullery (Jeremy Clark) takes us on a surreal tour of Lancashire from setting rooms to bedrooms, from disco to pub, to witness the losers struggle to hold on their meager gains, “where things slide to but don’t drop off.”

ROAD by jim cartwright

Road is all about social exclusion and alienation that the poor working class struggles to survive body and soul. Road is filled with raw, raunchy humor, sensuality and desperation.  The 25 characters are deftly played by 12 fearless actors: Jeremy Clark, Kathryn Bartholomew, Kevin Lambert, Beverly Coscarelli, Suzanne Miller, Nick Mikula, Dan Maisner, Rory Jobst, Carla Harris, Brian Hurst, Jes Mercer and Stevie Chaddock. Each of these actors had their own outstanding moments.

ROAD by jim cartwright

Road presents a  slice of life, mostly at night, from a group of low-lifers as they spiral in to  depression . The hopeless characters,  unemployed  and unloved, seem to be  on the prowl for random sex and/or another drink to get them through each day.

Road is a most engaging show filled with strong character acting, innovative staging filled with excellent lower class British accents. I have not witnessed a finer ensemble piece in many a year. Director Richard Stockton Rand has energized his cast giving them permission to play their vignettes all out. The result is a most truthful and energetic look into the dark world of the disenfranchised.  You’ll be amazed at the acting presented here.  How often can you see 12 skilled actors each fully enshrining their characters? In Road, the pathetic characters live out their angst often saying:  ”Somehow, somehow, somehow I might escape.”

You’ll enjoy your 2 hours and 25 minutes in the dreary world of Lancashire’s alienated people. The ensemble work here is first class. Ka-Tet Theatre is off to an excellent start.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL, www.katettheatre.com tickets $15, Thursdays thru Sundays at 7:30, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission, through August 29, 2009