By Dan Caffrey
Directed by Aaron Henrickson
Produced by the Side Project &
At The Side Project, Chicago
Pacing hurts tense allegory
Dan Caffrey has penned a tense dramatic allegory Western, Sandalwood, about what could happen if the Pinocchio syndrome actually occurs. The writing is subtle, the tension mounts but the slow pace with too many long pauses with the actors staring into space for what seems like an eternity dilutes the tension begging tedium. The atmosphere is haunting but this show needs to be tightened up so that the dramatic power will emerge correctly. At times, with the sound effects playing, it was hard to hear the actors who seemed to be sparking too low despite the intimacy of The Side Project’s stage.
The story finds The Father (Sean Thomas) as the guilt-ridden creator of The Son (Anthony Stamillo). Father is searching for his Son, who has blazed a trail of blood and destruction throughout the American West. The Father, as he travels about the area his son has destroyed which includes raping the Girl in Blue (Jillian Rea) and killing everyone in a small town, he questions how evil the boy’s intentions truly are. Are the Son’s evil violent acts making him more human than tree?
Sandalwood is an allegory that begs the question of the effects of genetic inheritance of sin and violence. Sandalwood creates an eerie atmosphere with a strong performances by Sean Thomas and Anthony Stamillo. This world premiere work is tightly written and demonstrates the craft from Dan Caffrey as a playwright. If they would project a tad more and tighten up the pacing, Sandlawood would become as hauntingly effective play.It is worth seeing.
At The Side Project, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL, tickets $20, Thursdays thry Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 & 7 pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through April 20, 2014