Monday, February 6, 2012

Collaboraction's Dark Play

Photo by Saverio Truglia
I think most theatre artists want to like going to live theatre. They want to enjoy it and believe there is some bigger reason why they have committed their lives to being underpaid and overworked.  However, when I talk to people in the field about going to see live performance, they often find flaws and think about what they would have done differently. They don’t get lost in the story or in the moment. I could go on and comment on what a tragedy this is (because I, for one, enjoy going to the theatre), but we’ll skip this rant and talk about Collaboration’s Dark Play by Carlos Murillo showing in the Flat Iron Arts building in Wicker Park. 
 As I entered the intimate space and found two people in bed, I already liked how “close” this performance would be. I heard people around me talking about shows they were in themselves, and it occurred to me that I may be sitting in a room made up of theatre people (I mean, I came with six of them). So I expected to see a little skepticism, but I certainly didn’t find it because Dark Play was so well-executed, well-acted, and run flawlessly that even the veteran theatre professionals would get lost in the story and believe what was happening just few feet away from them. 
 Dark Play focuses on a lonely boy named Nick played by Clancy McCartney, who invents a woman on the Internet as a way of making a social connection. McCartney was wonderful, but so were all the actors. There was certainly no weak link. Sorin Brouwers and Jane deLaubenfels were nothing less than brilliant as they transformed into multiple characters that ranged from funny to tragic. Olivia Dustman and Aaron Kirby created real characters with whom the audience could truly empathize. The term “dark play” comes up as a drama teacher discusses what it means to play a game where only some people know the rules. This was a thoughtful connection to the story of Nick and the twisted world he created on the Internet. Murillo’s dialogue was real and funny at just the right moments.
I was truly engaged as we traveled from past to present from Internet world to the tangible one. The lighting and set gave the actors the space they need to remain onstage in the moment.  The lighting was such an emotional element, not only noting the time change, but also the panicked, hysterical moments that Nick was experiencing.  Michael Reed’s lighting really amped up the intensity of the play and I saw much of the audience physically moving forward. Anthony Mosely tied all of these elements together flawlessly. I left the play thinking about the human ability to harm, to disassociate, and ultimately how we can come back from even the darkest of places.  I recommend going to check it out, especially if you are in the Chicago Theatre scene. We need to support each other, and why not go see something that can entertain a room full of your quite critical peers? Dark Play, directed by Anthony Mosely runs through February. You can read more about it at
-Laurie Jones, Artistic Director

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