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Chain Theatre

Chasing the River

February 12, 2020

The subject matter of "Chasing the River" is, of course, viable, but the play is not as nuanced and insightful as one would hope—nor is it particularly gripping. Sometimes the action feels stagey, and at other times it seems undercooked. Particularly problematic is the role of Nathaniel who is written and acted quite one-dimensionally. True, Giebel offers at least one surprising aspect of the character: We learn that he wanted a sports-playing boy-child, not daughters, and that he treated the tomboyish Kat (then called “Katie”) as a substitute for a son. We learn that he was able to gain Katie’s trust, which he then insidiously betrayed. We never wonder, however, whether he is anything other than an unrelenting nightmare of a person. There are scenes in which we see him being pleasant to Katie, but his bullying monstrousness seems always apparent. Most creeps—even the alcoholic ones—manage to hide their ugly sides now and then. [more]

I Never Sang for My Father

September 14, 2019

The trouble is Lee’s almost catatonic approach to Gene.  He speaks in a toneless monotone and adapts a monolithic physical approach, his hands constantly held stiffly at his sides.  When he does erupt in anger it registers as bizarre overacting rather than the culmination of a life of living under his father’s thumb.  This leaves an emotional vacuum in the center of the play.  Even when he delivers the poignant punch line—“Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship”—what should have been an emotional wallop becomes a whimper. [more]