"I Do Today" Review- A One-Person Play on the Meaning of Family

As part of its “Solo Celebration!” series- “One Voice. One stage.”- The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, is currently presenting the world premiere of “I Do Today” through October 9th. Written by Sarah Myers and directed by Greenhouse Artistic Director Jacob Harvey, the one-person show stars Carin Silkaitis, founding Artistic Director of The Other Theatre Company, which is dedicated to “telling the stories of individuals or groups who are ‘othered’ by systems of oppression”.

Carin Silkaitis in "I Do Today"

This performance is a Jewish woman’s humorous ramble through her family tree, which she reconstructs on a canvas stage right and on the surrounding wall. The only oppressed characters here seem to be the icons of Jewish religious identity, the male and female versions of God, and the prophet Elijah- she renders the former as sexualized beings and the last as an imaginary childhood playmate- although, to be sure, it’s all in the service of self-expression, not blasphemy.There are a number of very funny quips that are insider Jewish jokes- for example, she designates one of her husbands “Future Ex Husband” and the shortens it to it’s abbreviation, “FEH”, which is a Yiddish exclamation conveying disapproval, displeasure or disgust. (“The greatest writer in the English language? Feh!”)

Carin Silkaitis draws the family tree

However, for the most part, this is not a discourse on typical Jewish family life, but on the state of family life today, after a few generations of broken, blended and unhappy families. The tone is light and even self-mocking, as Silkaitis takes us on a journey from a shtetl in Russia to her bedroom today, where she apparently mourns the straightening of her lost youthful bisexuality with her current apparently non-Jewish husband. We can’t see him, but his exhausted yet good-natured responses are all too clear.

Sharing with the audience

Moreover, under the jokes and asides, there is a definite vein of poignant sadness to the observations being made, even as Silkaitis struggles to find the correct way to draw the connections on the tree: are the lines strong or broken?  Often, she renders them faint squiggles while vehemently declaiming that her sister, with whom she shared the travails, is her favorite human being. The actor states with real ruefulness  “My family embraced the scandalous”, even as she repeatedly tells us her goal is “full disclosure”.

Carin Silkaitis in "I Do Today" by Sarah Myers

While it is hard to imagine a large audience pool who would “get” all the Jewish references, although they were well-defined, it was very easy for the audience on opening night to relate to the characters drive to construct an understandable and coherent life-story. “Bashert”, we are told, means “soulmate” in Yiddish. But it also means “destiny”.  We all share a common hope to find that elusive soulmate, and many marriages have been broken in just that vain effort. More importantly, though, we all as humans are interrelated- we share a common destiny. This very well acted performance underscores the human need for love and connectedness that finds family wherever it can.

Opening night of "I Do Today" at The Greenhouse Theater Center

As of 2016, the Greenhouse Theater Center launched its producing entity. For tickets through February 2017 to “Solo Celebration” and all their fine shows, go to  Greenhouse Theater website

All photos courtesy of Michael Broilow

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