REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Uncle Bob

By Austin Pendletonmary-arrchie theatre

Directed by Cody Estle

Produced by Mary-Arrchie Theatre co.

At Angel Island, Chicago

Weirdly enticing drama deals with a unique take on a family relationship

Perhaps the  set (by Andrew Hilder, that has all the books on the numerous selves facing backward so their spines were hidden sums up the failure as a writer and as a person for Bob (Richard Cotovsky)? Bob is a glib yet self-loathing middle age man completely frustrated with life. He laments that his wife Alice has left him. When a slightly open door appears, he believes (and hopes) it is Alice returning . He spouts a long dialogue wherein we learn much about Bob (and Alice).

mary-arrchie theatre

But the person at the door is Josh (Rudy Galvan), Bob’s nephew who just arrived unannounced from the Midwest. Bob and Josh have an extreme love-hate relationship going back from the time Josh was eight years old. Josh is now in his early twenties. As the two exchange barbs, quips and  long observations, with a few stinging insults, a dark picture emerges. Bob isn’t happy to see Josh. Josh is on a mission that is complex and rather destructive to himself. The two are opposites yet they share a self-loathing bitterness about themselves and a cynical view of life. As the drama unfolds, we see a strange twist on the effects of AIDS and its impending death sentence. We also witness the desperate need these two flawed souls to connect on several levels including their long winded existential debate. As smart as these two are, they fail to actually articulate their inter desires and needs.

This is s disturbing, yet enticing work filled with much subtext with an ambitiously cynical take on life, love and self-worth.. It is also a scary story of self-destruction.  I’ll say no more so at not to spoil the power of the conclusion. Richard Cotovsky is riveting as the failed writer while Rudy Galvan, in his finest role to date, is thoroughly calculating and intense. These two give off sparks of hatred and admiration that is totally plausible. You’ll leave this play shook-up.  As much as were loath what they say and do, somehow we empathize with their plight.


Tom Williams

At Angel Island,  735 W Sheridan Rd  Chicago, IL, 773-871-0442‎, tickets $20 – $25, Thursday thru Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 7pm, running time is 100 minutes without an intermission, through July 21, 2013

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