Thinner Than Water

the gift theatre 

Written by Melissa Ross
Directed by John Gawlik
At The Gift Theatre, Chicago
Uproar of family affairs stirs an interesting story
 The Gift Theatre ensemble member John Gawlik directs a thought evoking piece of the twists and turns that ‘family’ takes you on. Written by Melissa Ross, Thinner Than Water, makes its Chicago premiere. An empathetic story about the struggles of family and what it means to each individual will make you recall your own experiences. The Gift Theatre offers an intimate space that will emerge you into the play.
the gift theatre

Three well-introduced half siblings are brought together after that father’s deteriorating illness. Renee (Lynda Newton) is the oldest sibling married with kids. The middle sibling is Gary (Michael Patrick Thornton), a stoner who works in a comic book store that he is satisfied doing so. The youngest is Cassie (Brittany Burch) who is struggling with committing herself to anything. The three embark on a present day, family, comedy/drama. After recently getting calls from their father’s girlfriend, Gwen (Donna McGough), the siblings meet to cope the situation at hand. Renee, the seeming reliable one, does an outstanding job of being the aggressive mother. Gary receives a lot of fuss about living with his mother and working at a comic store, but his strong character allows him to stick up for himself. Recently brokenhearted, Cassie joins in with nothing, down on her life, with nothing else left to give. The three well-written characters must dig deep to enhance what it means to be family and to receive their own type of happiness along the way.

the gift theatreScenic Designer, Joe Schermoly, did an effective job releasing the mood of the show. The rainy set provided the tone of the show early on. Along with slow, instrumental music in between scene changes, deep emotions were created. Some overly written scenes slowed the pacing of the show. The 2 hour and 10 minute runtime felt a bit long towards the end. Fowl language was also a bit overused. If cussing were to be taken out of some scenes, the same emotion would be felt, if not deeper. The character development was clear but sometimes cussing interfered with the emotion of the scenes. Screaming and cussing in the middle of a hospital waiting room seemed a bit too unrealistic..

The three siblings have to come to terms with their situation and find their own type of closure. Melissa Ross’ compelling story drove these characters to finally grow up and deal with what family has to offer. Their performances will leave you relating to each characters, rooting for certain ones, and hating others. Thinner That Water presents a story with actors that inhabit their roles rendering messages that we can relate towards. I was particularly impressed by Thornton’s monologue about Renee being ‘the real bitch.


Matt Koske

Date Reviewed: April 5th, 2014

4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL., (773) 283-7071, tickets $20-$35, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes with 15 minute intermission, through May 25th, 2014. 

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