Directed by Jonathan Berry
At The Gift Theatre
Powerfully unique take on suicide fuels excellent world premiere
If there is reason to travel to the Northwest Side of Chicago (the land of middle class mediocrity), it would be to see Suicide, Incorporated by the talented playwright Andrew Hinderaker expertly directed by Jonathan Berry featuring one of the finest actors in Chicago – Michael Patrick Thornton at the Gift Theatre.
Suicide, Incorporated is a finely polished, hauntingly engrossing 90 minutes of theatre. It starts out as a sardonic look at suicide as a business opportunity and ends up a refreshing glimpse into the ultimate spirit of man. Scott (the wound-too-tight Ed Flynn) has made a cottage industry writing suicide notes for folks bent on killing themselves. Scott’s business is based on the fact that 80% of suicides are committed by men and that men want help writing their suicide note but they are reluctant to ask. But Suicide, Incorporated is only a Google search away, the business is growing.
We see Jason (Joshua Rollins) being grilled by Scott in a hiring interview. Scott needs talented writers but not a wacko. Jason is hired. Perry (Jay Worthington) is Scott’s “yes-man” assistant and note writer. When the nerdy lost-soul Norm (Michael Patrick Thornton in a subtle, ironic, yet moving performance) asks for Jason’s help with his note, Jason’s real agenda starts to unfold. We see Jason being visited by the spirit of his dead brother, Tommy (Mike Harvey) and we come to realize that Jason is carrying emotional and psychological issues about his brother’s suicide to his work.
Scott senses a conflict with Jason’s handling of Norm. The emerging relationship between Jason and Norm is deftly played out in several powerful scenes. We learn much in these scenes about Norm’s motivation and Jason’s angst. This 90 minute drama keeps us guessing and on the edge of our seats throughout. The burdens of guilt, loneliness, despair and personal cowardice are effectively presented and played by a marvelous cast totally in touch with the truth of the piece. Mike Harvey and Ed Flynn are intense and Joshua Rollins and Michael Patrick Thornton bond in a moving manner that presents tw0 souls deciding to be strong enough to feed off each other in an attempt to ease their pain. The power of hope and the strength of the human spirit here is uplifting.
Andrew Hinderaker is a playwright to be noted. This work is tight, focused with layers of truth. It unfolds as a haunting psychological drama. Get to The Gift Theatre soon to see this intense drama. It is one of the best plays of 2010.
At The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, Call 773-283-7071, tickets $25 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission.