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Review: The Casuals (Jackalope Theatre)

| July 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Ellie Reed and Morgan Maher star in the world premiere of Jackalope Theatre's "The Casuals" by Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Alex Hand)        
       
The Casuals 

Written by Chance Bone and Andrew B. Swanson
Directed by Jonathan Berry 
DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru July 28  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     



  
  

World premiere holds many secrets, little light

     

Sam Kurzydlo, Ellie Reed, Morgan Maher and Ed Dzialo star in the world premiere of Jackalope Theatre's "The Casuals" by Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Alex Hand)

    
Jackalope Theatre Company presents
    
The Casuals

Review by Lawrence Bommer

Starting with the title of this new work by Jackalope Theatre company members Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, more questions than answers dog this world premiere. Why The Casuals, since this Eisenhower-era drama is not about a doo wop men’s group? Anyway, there’s nothing casual about the play’s detonation of Atomic Age secrets, most of which remain exasperatingly unexplained in a plot that’s alternately coy or confusing and maddeningly unsure about its chronology. (Would it be so damn hard to indicate in the program the play’s times and locales? Rhetorical question…) Actually, “exposure” might be a better term for all these skeletons in the closet–since one family in 1955 suffers from two cases of leukemia brought on by watching atom bomb tests in the Nevada desert too close for their future.

Somer Benson and Ed Dzialo star as Lucielle and Richard in the world premiere of Jackalope Theatre's "The Casuals" by Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Alex Hand)

Spirited but inevitably unfocused, Jonathan Berry’s staging of this cryptic drama concentrates on Richard Hughes (a much divided Ed Dzialo), a supposedly heroic host of military radio during World War II. For a dozen years he’s been vetting hapless test subjects in the Army’s reckless A-bomb tests of radiation poisoning (a term never uttered in this too-reticent play). Richard is playing a full-time game of “I’ve Got A Secret,” since he never tells the truth—and The Casuals is all about truth if it’s about anything (which is an open question)—about a brother and a father’s supposedly heroic deaths in battle and whether one of his interviewees turned out to be a multiple murderer. “If” plays a big role here, just when you want “then” to relieve us of assorted quandaries.

Since said secrets are barely divulged, of course, they’re never resolved in this frustrating eight-actor two-acter. Instead, much of the action is frittered away with inconclusive small talk between whitebread characters or scenes that peter out just when they’re about the deliver some goods. Out of apparent desperation the authors throw in a final scene in which an Army honcho (Norm Woodel) warns Richard to toe the line and not make waves. It’s ironic because The Casuals does just that over and over. When it comes to telling the real stories behind these Cold War casualties, yes, it is far too casual.

  
Rating: ★★
  
   

The Casuals continues through July 28th at DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 and 7:30pm.  Tickets are $15, and are available by phone (773-340-2543) or online through Tix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at JackalopeTheatre.org(Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes, includes an intermission)

Ed Dzialo, Ellie Reed and Morgan Maher star in the world premiere of Jackalope Theatre's "The Casuals" by Chance Bone and Andrew Burden Swanson, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Alex Hand)

Photos by Alex Hand


     

artists

cast

Somer Benson (Lucille), Emily Casey (Marnie), Ed Dzialo (Richard), Sam Kurzydlo (Tim), Morgan Maher (Tom), Ellie Reed (Jessica), Brad Smith (Les), Norm Woodell (Harris).

behind the scenes

Jonathan Berry (director), John Wilson (scenic design), Stefin Steberl (costume designer), Jess Harpenau (lighting design), Thomas Dixon (sound design), Eleanor Kahn (props design), Elana Boulos (casting) Allison Raynes (stage manager) and Kaiser Ahmed (producer), Alex Hand (photos)

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Category: 2013 Reviews, DCA Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Lawrence Bommer, New Work, Storefront Theatre, World Premier

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