Review: Still (Interrobang Theatre Project)

| October 18, 2016

Matthew Nerber stars as Constantinople in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre Project           
      
  

Still
 
Written by Jen Silverman
at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map)
thru Oct 30  |  tix: $24  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Bizarre, nuanced and poignant, with a beautiful ending scene

  

Laura Berner Taylor, Matthew Nerber, Elana Elyse and Sarah Gise in Still, Interrobang Theatre Project

    
Interrobang Theatre Project presents
    
Still

Review by Lauren Whalen

The death of a child is a unique tragedy: even with a diagnosis or a perpetrator, the death itself defies explanation. But what about when a baby is born dead? This is a loss for sure, but of a different type. This is a child who literally had their whole life ahead and got to live exactly none of it. And the surviving mother must deal with well-meaning friends and relatives who have no idea what to say or do, as well as the reality of her own mortality and the never ending feeling of “why?” Still deftly explores the phenomenon of the stillborn child with a distinctive twist: the perspective of the child himself.

Laura Berner Taylor and Sarah Gise in Still by Jen Silverman at Interrobang Theatre ProjectConstantinople (Matthew Nerber) was born dead two days ago, but managed to escape from the morgue. He has a very limited vocabulary, a sensitivity to the new sensations outside the womb, and a memory of his mother’s smell. Constantinople knows that he must find his mother again, and connect with her before it’s too late, his already-stiffening body shutting down for good. Through a twist of fate, Constantinople enlists the help of Dolores (Sarah Gise), a private school dropout turned dominatrix who’s dealing with a surprise of her own. Meanwhile, Constantinople’s mother Morgan (Elana Elyce) sits in her basement, at a loss of what to do next, and her midwife Elena (Laura Berner Taylor) struggles to help Morgan heal while dealing with her first professional fatality.

Still is a strange play from the start: it begins with the monologue of a stillborn child, played by an adult man wearing what resembles a cloth diaper. Though at times playwright Jen Silverman seems to try too hard to be over-the-top, overall it is Still’s strangeness that makes the play work. The odd interpretation of a sadly commonplace, though little-discussed, event keeps the play from descending into maudlin Lifetime Original Movie territory. Yet Still’s script never downplays the character’s overwhelming emotions: Morgan’s bottomless grief, Dolores’ confusion, Elena’s fear and Constantinople’s frustrated, confused wonder at the world that he’ll soon have to leave. Director Georgette Verdin drags the pacing a bit, particularly in the play’s second half, but overall displays an intelligent understanding of the complex situation and characters.

Sarah Gise and Elana Elyse in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre Project Sarah Gise and Matthew Nerber in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre ProjectMatthew Nerber and Laura Berner Taylor star in Still, Interrobang Theatre Project Matthew Nerber stars as Constantinople in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre ProjectLaura Berner Taylor and Elana Elyse star in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre Projec

Interrobang has always had a strong ensemble, and these four actors are no exception. Nerber faces a huge challenge, playing a baby who will never age or progress, and his Constantinople is both sympathetic and utterly memorable. As mother Morgan, Elyce aptly showcases the wide range of thoughts and feelings of an intelligent woman who never thought she’d be a mother, then wanted nothing more, only to have her dreams dashed at the last possible moment. Gise’s Dolores is perfectly rough around the edges, but she never goes into Goth cliché. Only Taylor is slightly out of place: she’s an excellent actress, but appears a little too young to have the long, successful career of midwife Elena.

Still is never easy, but neither is the fallout of a lost baby. Silverman’s lovingly nuanced portrayal of Constantinople and the effects of his short life is wonderfully brought to life by Interrobang Theatre Project. Still is a thought-provoking narrative of a taboo topic, and a strong season opener for the company.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Still continues through October 30th at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport (map), with performances Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays 2pm & 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $24 (students: $17, seniors: $14), and are available by phone (773-935-6875) or online through OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at InterrobangTheatreProject.com(Running time: 95 minutes, no intermission)

Sarah Gise and Matthew Nerber in Still, Interrobang Theatre Project

Photos by Emily Schwartz


  

artists

cast

Laura Berner Taylor (Elena), Elana Elyce (Morgan), Sarah Gise (Dolores), Matthew Nerber (Constantinople)

behind the scenes

Georgette Verdin (director), Greg Pinsoneault (scenic design), Noël Huntzinger (costume design), Emma Deane (lighting design), Morgan Lake (sound design), Tammer Boutros (properties design), Brynne Barnard (dramaturg), Emily Bragg (assistant director), Lisa Giebler (technical director), Victoria Fox (stage manager), Zoë Verdin (creative design), Emily Schwartz (photographer)

Laura Berner Taylor stars as Elena in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre Project Sarah Gise and Elana Elyse star in Still by Jen Silverman, Interrobang Theatre ProjectSarah Gise and Matthew Nerber star in Still by Jen Silverman at Interrobang Theatre Project Laura Berner Taylor and Sarah Gise star in Still, Interrobang Theatre Project

Still Poster - Interrobang Theatre Project

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Category: 2016 Reviews, Athenauem, Interrobang Theatre Project, Lauren Whalen

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