Theatre ReviewsTom Williams


Written by David Schwimmer & Andy Bellintrust at lookingglass theatre

Directed by David Schwimmer & Heidi Stillman

At Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago

Cautionary tale of Internet sexual predator’s subtle encroaching in the life of a trusting teen is scary and too real

David Schwimmer and Andy Bellin  wrote and produced the film “Trust” as a major motion picture recently. They so believe in the cautionary message contained in the film that they have adapted the script into a stage play now playing at Lookingglass Theatre. Schwimmer and Heidi Stillman direct Trust which has the finest use of video that I’ve seen on stage .

trust at lookingglass theatre

Trust plays on stage like a screenplay with many short scenes deftly using the video and live stage action to tell the story of a upper middle class family steeped in contemporary technology.  We meet Annie (the amazingly truthful Allison Torem) as the 14 year old high school freshman who loves soccer and Internet chat.  She has an older brother, Peter (Spencer Curnutt) leaving for college and her younger sister, Brittany (Zoe Levin). The family, led by Lynn (Amy J. Carle) – the mother and Will (Philip R. Smith) – the father. This is a happy, well-functioning family.

trust at lookingglass theatre

We see that Annie is a tough, thoughtful and self-confident teen who sees the best in people. But Annie is a typical teen coming of age who covets recognition as an individual with raging hormones.  She uses Internet chat rooms to meet boys. She meets Charlie who, in a short time, becomes a cyber-soul mate.  Over time, her chats consumes more and more of her time. She lives in a world oblivious of her family as Charlie’s messages subtly overwhelm her. Her trust in him grows as their ability to communicate with one another grows.

trust at lookingglass theatre

Over a few months with day long communication, Annie and Charlie exchange personal info and Charlie gradually keeps upping his age from 16 to 20 to 25 in preparation for meeting Annie.   Charlie (played with a gentleness and sincerity by Raymond Fox) travels to Chicago  and meets Annie at the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie. Annie is stunned to find that Charlie is middle aged – claims to be 35 – but he looks in his 40’s. Face to face, Charlie’s  demeanor exudes comfort which relaxes Annie as she willingly goes to Charlie’s hotel room for a sexual encounter. Allison Torem and Raymond Fox exude an uneasy yet compelling chemistry that finds Annie completely under Charlie’s spell.

trust at lookingglass theatre

After the encounter, Annie acts out in a state of malaise that finds her hiding shame from her family. She confides her adventure to her best friend, Serena (Zanny Laird) who tells the teachers at the high school. Once the authorities and her family get involved Annie still defends her relationship with Charlie. We witness the MO of a sexual predator and how difficult is really is to find such pervert. This well-written and superbly paced drama demonstrates how a seemingly innocent encounter can lead to unravel the fabric of an entire family.

The lessons in Trust are many including the fact that–try as we might–we can’t protect our children from everything and that bad things can and do happen to them. Will (Philip R. Smith in a subdued rage) is the guilt-reddened father who feel frustrated because he couldn’t protect his daughter.

The acting her is excellent with Smith, Fox and especially Allison Torem in nuanced and deep performances. The theatrical experience of combining projection, video, photos, texting and live chat worked to give an authenticity to the story.  This powerful drama is  both a warning to parents and a call to action for families to keep communication open with their children. We need to know who and what are kids are texting, talking and Internet chatting with.  We can’t afford to let our children live on a private, uncensored world of hi-tech.  Take you kids, eleven or older to see this show and then have a talk with them about chat rooms and meeting strangers online. They’ll listen…hopefully.

Highly Recommended

Jeff Recommended

At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan at Water Tower Water Works, Chicago, IL, call 312-337-0665,, Tuesday thru Sundays at 7:30, matinees at 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, running time is 100 minutes without intermission,  through May 9, 2010

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