Review: The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre)

| October 29, 2015

Aaron Lamm stars as Michael Thomas in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)         
      
The Play About My Dad 

Written by Boo Killebrew
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Nov 28  |  tix: $18-$42 | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    


    
  

Style overshadows substance in Katrina chronicle

  

Tuckie White, Joe Mack, JoAnn Montemurro, Patrick Agada, Nick Horst, Aaron Lamm, Henry Stegemann, Paloma Nozicka, Miguel Nunez and Sandra Watson star in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)

    
Raven Theatre presents
    
The Play About My Dad

Review by Keith Glab

Playwright Boo Killebrew‘s father, whom she had not spoken to in years, stayed behind after Hurricane Katrina hit their hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi to care for the victims. She penned a complexly layered play combining his father’s accounts as a doctor during the storm with her own difficult relationship with the man. On the 10-year anniversary of the tragic storm, Raven Theatre gives Killebrew’s meta-theatrical play its Midwest premiere.

Patrick Agada and Sandra Watson in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)An unfinished set features a lighting board, laptop, and script sides stage left. Boo Killebrew (Tuckie White) and her father Larry (Joe Mack) use these items to control the unfolding of three scenarios witnessed to some extent by Larry: an elderly southern lady who hasn’t abandoned her home through decades of hurricane warnings and has no intention to do so for Katrina, a family of three who ride out the storm due to a lack of means to evacuate, and a pair of emergency medical technicians stranded in their ambulance as water rises. The Killebrews not only directly address the audience and control the action, but discuss edits to the production and include snippets of their own troubled past.

The primary problem with this framework lies in our seeing too much of father and daughter jabbering about what scenes to include and not enough of the scenes themselves. In essence, the concept of the play within the play becomes more important than the circumstances suffered by the storm victims. The secondary problem lies in certain exchanges between the two of them getting ‘read’ off scripts. I realize this is done to illustrate how difficult bridging the gap between them and discussing their differences must have been, but it’s dramatically less interesting to see these two emotionally charged characters avoid eye contact.

Miguel Nunez, Aaron Lamm and Paloma Nozicka in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie) Sandra Watson in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)Tuckie White in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie) Joe Mack amd Sandra Watson in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)Nick Horst and Patrick Agada in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)

All of this results in a presumably unintentional Verfremdungseffekt, distancing the audience from the characters. The three victim accounts feel less real despite their being based on actual events. Some inconsistencies in dialect contribute to this feeling as well. Helping to pull the audience back in are a handful of understated, realistic performances from Tuckie White as Boo, Joe Mack as her father Larry, and Aaron Lamm as Michael Thomas, the pre-pubescent flood victim. Sandra Watson plays the larger-than-life Essie with such authenticity and conviction that I’m certain I’ve met that character somewhere before.

The most interesting character, Kenny Tyson (Patrick Agada), believes that he intermittently travels through time. He has traveled to the day he dies before: the day Katrina hits, and remains resigned to his fate. Kenny also has an unconsummated love interest with Boo and a strong-yet-contentious friendship with his EMT partner Neil (Nick Horst). You could center a full-length play around this intriguing character, but here we only receive a tease of his complexities.

The Play About My Dad is a good, complex production that director Marti Lyons does her best to simplify, but you come away from the experience feeling unsatisfied. As someone who fortunately had the ability to evacuate New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, I should feel more emotionally impacted from seeing accounts of those who did not. Boo Killebrew insists that re-telling their stories in this layered manner brings us "closer to the truth than the truth." Perhaps that is so, but it distances us from the emotion.

  
Rating: ★★½
  
   

The Play About My Dad continues through November 28th at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 3:30pm.  Tickets are $18-$42, and are available by phone (773-338-2177) or online through OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at RavenTheatre.com(Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes, includes an intermission)

Joe Mack, Tuckie White and Patrick Agada in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)

Photos by Dean La Prairie 


  

artists

cast

Tuckie White (Boo Killebrew), Joe Mack (Larry Killebrew), JoAnn Montemurro (Sallye Killebrew), Patrick Agada (Kenny Tyson), Nick Horst (Neil Plitt), Aaron Lamm and Henry Stegemann (alternating as Michael Thomas), Paloma Nozicka (Rena Thomas), Miguel Nunez (Jay Thomas), Sandra Watson (Essie Watson), Jen Bosworth (U/S Rena Thomas), TJ Crawford (U/S Neil Plitt and Kenny Tyson), Felisha McNeal (U/S Essie), Angela Sandall (U/S Boo Killebrew), Scot West (U/S Larry and Jay)

behind the scenes

Marti Lyons (director), Elyse Dolan (asst. director), Michael Stanfill and Rebecca A. Barrett (lighting design), Courtney O’Neill (set design), Chris LaPorte (sound design), Kristy Leigh Hall (costume design), Amanda Herrmann (props design), Alan Weusthoff (technical director), Tara Malpass (stage manager), Elysse AZ Bacig (asst. stage manager), Kelly Claussen (production manager), Jason K. Martin (dialect coach), Thom Pasculli (movement coach), Dean La Prairie (photos)

Joe Mack, Nick Horst and Patrick Agada in Raven Theatre's "The Play About My Dad" by Boo Killebrew, directed by Marti Lyons. (photo credit: Dean La Prairie)

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Category: 2015 Reviews, Keith Glab, Raven Theatre

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