Directed by Nathan Robbel
Produced by Tympanic Theatre
At The Den, Chicago
Desperate folks do desperate things in a post-apocalyptic world of fear and suspicion.
Tympanic Theatre Company loves to produce “the best kind of weird” plays. The truly have done so with Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Social Creatures. This 90 minute work seemed to last hours as the work labored along at a snails pace. From the seating in the dark by flashlight, director Nathan Robbel tried to create an eerie atmosphere but our use of smartphones nixed that idea quickly. Folks just don’t like to sit in the dark as others stumble along trying to find seats.
Once the show begins, we meet seven desperate folks hiding from an unnamed disease that is killing off the world’s population. They use a theatre as their sanctuary and they have established a society with rules and procedures to allow the common good of the group to dictate their survival. Mrs. Smith (Charlotte Long) is the self-appointed leader who strictly enforces the ‘rules’ as the others, to varying degrees, thwart the rules as their personalities emerge. The common goal is to survive as fear dictates that all never get an ‘unclean’ outsider to touch them and thus passing along the fatal ailment.
Much of this show drags along as we labor with this group as fear and panic prevails over the slightest thing. The characters are presented as boring folks caught up in a post-apocalyptic world where nothing happens sans basic survival. I couldn’t care less about this group and the videos that were suppose to give us each’s back story mostly rambled incoherent dribble.
The atmosphere of fear never materialized, only boredom. The script was cliche-ridden and the acting was pedestrian at best. I also never bought how members of the community evolved into zombie-like creatures. There was never enough tension built to sustain the transition from fearful survivor to flesh eater. The slow pace killed off the necessary tension and suspense. It is amazing how long 90 minutes can seem! Unfortunately, Social Creatures is a dud that begs to be skipped.
At The Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL, tickets $15, $12 students/industry/seniors, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through November 16, 2014