Review – 10-4: The Truck Stop Plays (Chemically Imbalanced Comedy)

| August 13, 2014
Cat Abood and Damian Anaya star in "Standin' Water", part of CIC Theater's "10-4: The Truck Stop Plays," written by Anthony Ellison, directed by Karisa Bruin. (photo credit: Ryan Patrick Dolan)        
10-4: The Truck Stop Plays

Written by Anthony Ellison, Tyler JC Whidden,
   Neal Adelman and Ryan Patrick Dolan
Directed by Karisa Bruin, Mary Rose O’Connor,
   Jeri Frederickson and Ashley Neal
at CIC Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park (map)
thru Aug 30  |  tickets: $10   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review 


A quartet of shorts fueled by comedy


Lauren Gilbert and Jimmy Pennington star in "1100 Chili Dogs" by Neal Adelman, directed by Jeri Frederickson, part of CIC Theater's "10-4: The Truck Stop Plays," produced by Ryan Patrick Dolan. (photo credit: Ryan Dolan)

Chemically Imbalanced Comedy presents
10-4: The Truck Stop Plays

Review by Keith Glab

Ryan Patrick Dolan leads a quartet of students from the Ohio University MFA playwright program to produce four short plays, all set at a rest stop. Each tale gets told quickly and simply, befitting the ephemeral nature of a visit to one of these nuggets of Americana.

Cat Abood and Damian Anaya star in "Standin' Water", written by Anthony Ellison, directed by Karisa Bruin, part of CIC Theater's "10-4: The Truck Stop Plays," produced by Ryan Patrick Dolan. (photo credit: Ryan Dolan)Dolan makes a big deal about the fact that all four playwrights are male yet the four directors for these shows are female. The theory behind providing a different perspective makes some sense, though none of the pieces deal with gender issues directly. The notion ultimately fails to resonate; the gender of the creative teams for these particular vignettes just doesn’t overly matter much.

Having four playwrights who attend school in rural Ohio gives the often absurdist pieces an aura of authenticity, however. A Chicago audience can get on board with these larger-than-life characters/situations and think perhaps they accurately reflect life in small towns. The result is a quick and fun night of theatre. None of these plays are likely to cause any major epiphanies in the audience, but they serve the purpose of telling entertaining stories. Since none of the four straightforward plays last more than 20 minutes or challenge comprehension, 10-4: The Truck Stop Plays could serve as a great introduction for someone who doesn’t normally patronize storefront theatre.

Standin’ Water
by Anthony Ellison; directed by Karisa Bruin

Lindy (Cat Abood) serves as both rest stop attendant and town nurse, which leads Kiel (Ryan Heywood) to take his eight-year old festering leg wound to her. When her ex-flame (Damian Anaya) who doubles as town sheriff and town plumber enters, a hilariously absurd love triangle appears. The cast exhibits great comedic instincts to set the tone for the evening.

by Tyler JC Whidden; directed by Mary Rose O’Connor

Three siblings bicker as they travel to their mother’s funeral services. This one’s staged a bit awkwardly with the cast delivering most of their lines out to the audience rather than to each other, but it takes off when bags of Doritos get flung everywhere. Becky (Catherine Dildilian) carries the action as the Type A personality sibling and Kate Marie Smith has some fun moments as the free-spirited Samantha. Dave (Lloyd Vincent Anderson) never really solidifies as a character and is performed with low energy and low stakes.

1100 Chili Dogs, or 1985:
     The Year Belinda Carlisle Came to Oklahoma

by Neal Adelman; directed by Jeri Frederickson

As the title suggests, Belinda Carlisle (Brittany Stock) takes her Go-Go’s tour bus through Oklahoma and sends her guitar technician Ricky (Jimmy Pennington) to order 1100 chili dogs from a rest stop. Haja (Lauren Gilbert) delights as the fawning country fangirl, first over Ricky (who purports to be the lead guitarist), then over Ms. Carlisle herself. Some of the 80s terminology and references are fun, but the plot of this piece whirlwinds around rather nonsensically.

Burger King
by Ryan Patrick Dolan; directed by Ashley Neal

The evening ends on a macabre note, as Molly (Elizabeth Birnkrant) enlists hit girl Gertrude (Sarah-­Jayne Ashenhurst) to kill her rich husband. Dolan’s script explores the dynamics of marriage in a darkly humorous way, but Neal’s staging stagnates the narrative into two talking heads for most of the time. The surprise ending makes this piece an appropriate one with which to close an enjoyable night of theatre.

Rating: ★★★

10-4: The Truck Stop Plays continues through August 31st at CIC Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park (map), with performances Thursdays-Sundays at 8pm.  Tickets are $10, and are available online through (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 75 minutes, no intermission)

Elizabeth Birnkrant and Sarah­Jayne Ashenhurst star in "Burger King" by Ryan Patrick Dolan, directed by Ashley Neal, part of CIC Theater's "10-4: The Truck Stop Plays," produced by Ryan Patrick Dolan. (photo credit: Ryan Dolan)

Photos by Ryan Patrick Dolan




Cat Abood (Lindy), Damian Anaya (Sherrif), Lloyd Vincent Anderson (Dave), Sarah-Jayne Ashenhurst (Gertrude), Elizabeth Birnkrant (Molly), Catherine Dildilian (Becky), Lauren Gilbert (Haja), Ryan Heywood (Kiel), Jimmy Pennington (Ricky), Kate Marie Smith (Samantha), Brittany Stock (Belinda Carlisle)

behind the scenes

Ryan Patrick Dolan (producer, photos), Karisa Bruin, Mary Rose O’Connor, Jeri Frederickson, Ashley Neal (directors), Sarah Borer (stage manager), Kaitlyn Grissom (technical design), Jake Ross (lighting design), Christina Gorman (fight choreographer, Burger King)


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Category: 2014 Reviews, Chemically Imbalanced, Chemically Imbalanced Theater, Keith Glab, New Work, World Premier

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