Profiles’ IN GOD’S HAT Explores Brotherly Love That Society Shuns

slide_gods_hat_4Profiles Theatre gets back to their gritty roots with playwright Rhett Rossi’s Chicago Premiere of In God’s Hat, firmly directed and creatively staged by Artistic Director Joe Jahraus. Featuring understated and edgy performances by Larry Neumann, Jr and Darrell W. Cox, Rossi’s psychologically uncomfortable play explores the all to real life situation when you have a family member that is mentally damaged and shunned from society. It is a balancing act between the love you have of a brother who has just been released from prison after serving time as a pedophile and the lifetime of damage being abused both mentally and physically in the most abhorrent of family situations.

Mr. Rossi’s play, which garnered critical acclaim with its New York bow in 2010 finds more challenges with this outing. With Profiles’ production, the humor of the piece, which is absolutely needed to break up the palpable tension, almost reverts to sit-com status. That ends up being not a scriptural issue but rather one the cast has to bare because of the unlikely coupling of Mr. Neumann, Jr. and Mr. Cox as brothers. They neither resemble or act like they are cut from the same womb. That unfortunately makes for their brotherly affection and disaffection to be marred in disbelief. When the humor is added on top of that, it seems superfluous.

slide_gods_hat_1When other characters arrive, the story shifts to something much more sinister and it is that point where Mr. Cox shines, not through dialogue, but through his eyes. They are at once all knowing and all seeing, with the life of his brother in his hands and the decision he makes between life and death for his kin felt through the silence of the theatre. This scene alone is worth the seeing the production.

What I have always treasured about Profiles is their unabashed mission to delve into plays no other group in Chicago would dare to. More than that, Profiles has the talent to accomplish that end goal, leaving reckless abandon behind to get to the meaty truth behind a character, no matter how uncomfortable that is for the audience to witness. In fact, as a critic, that is the joy of their existence. In God’s Hat is a tricky offering as Redtwist’s recently closed The Beautiful Dark dealt with an equally perplexing moral family dilemma but with a much more cohesive and confident script. Here, the performances surely keep the play afloat but having two brothers share at least some of the same characteristics would help for the believability of this piece to shine through.

In God’s Hat runs through October 13, 2013 at Profile Theatre’s Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815,www.profilestheatre.org, tickets $35 – $40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission. For calendar information please visit www.TheatreInChicago.com