By Jayme McGhan
Directed by Drew Martin
Produced by Stage Left Theatre
At Theater Wit, Chicago
Strong writing and truthful acting reel us in to The Fisherman
The World Premiere of Jayme McGhan’s powerful drama, The Fisherman, combines the lure of fishing – the every man’s favorite recreation – and the revenge of the blue collar worker toward corporate downsizing. McGhan’s polished script puts a face on the middle class working stiffs who spent 35 years as airplane mechanics with fishing the Minnesota River as their main personal escape and recreation. The attention to details of these avid fisherman by McGhan and director Drew Martin nicely utilizes Alan Donahue’s impressive wooden wharf set where the folks meet to socialize while fishing.
Brothers Carl (Michael Pacas) and Chucky (Sandy Eelias) meet daily to listen to the Twin’s game, fish, and plan their retirement. Chucky’s daughter, herself an avid angler and local cop – Jenny (Kate Black-Spence) is a “by-the-book” officer loyal to the town and the fishermen. As we learn or remember the joys and techniques of fishing, we get to know the veteran blue collar average ‘Joe’s’ – Chucky and Carl. Their dream is to retire to a cabin on Pequot Lake and fish all day. They fish, drink beers and listen to the Twin’s game. Life is copacetic.
Their tranquility is first interrupted by Mutt (Ian Maxwell), the youngest brother to Carl and Chucky who has been fired as a white collar financial analyst. As a sucker for biz-op scams, Mutt is desperate for a loan to save his home and family. His desperation falls on deaf ears since the brothers have bailed him out financially before . His desperation leads to a desperate act.
Next, Carl and Chucky lose 35 % of their pensions, get downsized (along with 500 other mechanics) and lose their medical benefits as the greedy corporate suits loot the airline at the expense of the workers. Chucky is saddened but Carl is deeply disturbed and he feels pushed to the breaking point as his tranquil world comes crashing down. When Mutt is found dead with an anchor wrapped around his legs, Carl feels guilt for not giving Mutt some cash. He realizes that Mutt and his 500 fellow workers face life devastating trauma that they were not responsible for nor can do little about. Carl realizes that he must ‘push’ back.
His act of terrorist kills 17 people when he was aiming for the corporate president who dismantled the airline killing his future. He only has remorse for killing the corporate marketing lady who opposed the drastic downsizing moves.
McGahn’s script and the deeply truthful performance by Michael Pascas (his finest work to date) as Carl almost makes Carl almost a sympathetic character. We do empathize with Carl but we condemn his rationalization that the end justifies the means. This moving drama puts a face on how the 1% keep getting pushed toward desperate acts. This cautionary tale could be all too real if corporate greed continues to destroy the working class. It shows that a gentle fisherman can become a monster when injustice kills his spirit and destroys his earned life rewards. This play will get folks thinking and talking. That is a good thing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 25, 2012
For more info checkout The Fisherman page on theatreinchicago.com
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, www.stagelefttheatre.com, tickets $25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through April 1, 2012