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DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD Is A Gem Of Emotional Authenticity
It is not very often I am caught off guard by a production, but Pride Film and Play’s World Premiere production of Martin Casella’s Directions for Restoring The Apparently Dead did just that.
This tightly woven, four character play weaves tell the story of Jinx (Patrick Gannon) a successful children’s book editor who helplessly watches his lover of fifteen years, Richard (Nicholas Stockwell) die of a annursism. To find healing, he asks his life long friend Griff (Patrick Rybarczyk) to a rural cabin in England. As the play moves forward, we learn that Griff, the once popular high school jock, is dealing with a terminally ill wife (Alanda Coon), and that his early addiction issues have never fully been put to rest. What initially seems like two best friends finding solace in each others company, turns out to be a search for a true soul mate and to find a deeper meaning to each of their lives.
Movingly directed by David Zak, Directions For Restoring The Apparently Dead touches on an authenticity of relationships that is rarely seen. Each of the characters has their moment to shine but the success of this production rides on the shoulders of Mr. Gannon’s Jinx. From the moment he walks through the doors of cabin, Gannon connects with the audience through humor which then allows the actor to takes us on the character journey that will leave you in a state of emotional restoration yourself.
From a critical point of view, Mr. Gannon gave me, as a critic (and theatre lover), something I don’t think I have ever witnessed on the stage but have only heard about. It is that rare moment of an actor being taken over by something other than himself, with his body and soul literally becoming that character. It happened when Mr. Gannon’s Jinx watches his partner die. He screams his name, “Richard”, then screams his name, then screams his name….tears run down Gannon’s face, he screams his name as finally he falls to his knees as an earthquake of emotions erupts with the patrons of the theatre. Even as I write this, I have tears just thinking about his performance. Kudos also for Raphael Schwartzman’s lighting design to help enhance this entire production.
For this being a new work and premiere, the play is in fine shape. The only caveat would be Griff’s monologue at the end where the playwright seems to be writing for another character entirely. Each of the characters, up until that point, have spoken in their own specific verbiage (as any developed character should). The final scene is over written and out of context for what would actually have happened given how the playwright developed Griff. An easy fix but one that would benefit both the actor and the play.
Pride Film and Plays is emerging as a unique and important voice which has been missing of late in the Chicago theatre scene. This play, their best to date, is a must-see and will surely make you think about your life choices when you walk out of theater.
Directions for Restoring The Apparently Dead runs through November 10, 2013 at Stage 773 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.Curtain Times: Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm Tickets: Previews: $20. Opening $30 (includes reception). Regular Run: Thursdays $25 (all seats), Friday, Saturdays and Sundays $30 (center section) and $25 (side sections). Students and seniors: $5 off all performances. Industry: $10 during previews. Tickets go on sale Saturday, August 10 at www.stage773.com, in person at the Stage 773 Box Office or by calling (773) 327-5252. For calendar information visit TheatreInChicago.com