By Julie Marie Myatt
Directed by Jessica Thebus
At Next Theatre, Evanston
Powerful dramatization of traumatized folks produces several excellent performances
Next Theate loves to mount “socially provocative and artistically adventurous work as evidenced by their latest, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter. When Marine warrior Jenny Sutter (Lily Mojekwu) returns home from Afghanistan to a dirty bus station in LA, she seems listless as she simply sits staring into space. She is befriended by the quirky, always-traveling Lou (Jenny Avery), a recovering addict with many issues. Lou senses Jenny’s melancholy as she befriends her and coaxes her to travel to their California desert hideaway – Slab City.
Upon arrival, Jenny is treated kindly by an assortment of misfits, each with their own baggage to deal with. Slab City is a make-shift cement slab-infused abounded Air Force base. We meet Buddy (Lawrence Grimm), a self-proclaimed preacher and survivor of parental child abuse and Lou’s former lover. Donald (Kurt Brocker) is the anti-social Jewry maker; Cheryl (Hanna Dworkin) is the self-proclaimed psychiatrist who counsels Lou. These off -the -grid survivors is a haven for those retreating form society while they struggle to find meaning for themselves. It is just the place for Jenny Sutter to sort out her life. How does she tell (and show) her children her artificial leg and how does she cope with the trauma and guilt from her war incident?
The 90 minute one act, filled with dark humor, attempts to recognize this group’s struggle for recovery and personal acceptance. Will Jenny have her epiphany or will she self-destruct? Will Lou over come her urge to escape reality through running away to places and will she give in to her multiple addictions? Can Buddy ever get Lou to stay in Slab City as his soul mate? Can Donald get over his trauma? This play asks us to consider our response to traumatized war veterans in particular and all traumatized souls in general. As much as many such suffers retreat to isolated place such as Slab City (an actual place in the Deseret of California), our society ignores injured and traumatized folks, especially war veterans. Just because the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are unpopular doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help and accept those brave souls who sacrificed themselves for us. Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter hopefully can get us to acknowledge those heroes. Jenny Avery and Lily Mojekwu anchor a terrific cast.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: November 19, 2012
For more info checkout the Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter page at theatreinchicago.com
At Next Theatre, at the Noyes Cultural Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston, IL, call 847-475-1875, www.nexttheatre.org, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through December 23, 2012