In A Forest, Dark and Deep Review - Think Twice Before Helping a Sibling Move

First lesson learned from Neil LaBute’s, In a Forest Dark and Deep; consider springing for a moving service instead of asking your sibling to help you on your next move.  This is doubly true if your brother or sister is a bitter and manipulative person with a long memory.  Triple that if you have some deep dark secrets that you like to keep from the light of day.  Playing now on the Profile Theater‘s Main Stage, In a Forest Dark and Deep gives us two loathsome brothers and sisters.  Bobby is self righteous, filled with venom, and twice divorced.  Betty is a sexually charged, pathological liar.  Together, they help pack up a recently departed cabin on a particularly stormy night.  As the power fades in an out, a story is revealed as if unveiled from behind a curtain.  And with each inch of fabric that is pulled back, another lie is revealed. 

Natasha Lowe (Betty) and Darrel W. Cox (Bobby)

The question then is whether the revealed story is worth the price of admission.  Maybe.  Without spoiling any of the surprises (and believe me, without those surprises this story has little to hang a hat on) we do get the usual hooks of sex and violence.  At times these vices are barely hinted at; other times they leap out of the story.  But they are felt throughout the entire play.  The set design (a rustic cottage interior) is exemplary and is paired well with appropriate sound effects that help to shape a very dark and menacing mood.  In an interview found within the playbill, LaBute stated that one of his aims in designing this play was to create a more visceral experience.  I would have to say he succeeded in doing so. 

Also to the play’s credit is the performance of Darrel W. Cox as Bobby.  Cox is a tremendous presence throughout the play and, when he is not prowling the stage with seething anger, is able to guilt and needle better than my Jewish grandmother.  His counterpart, Natasha Lowe, however is less believable as his sister.  Although she does a great job with hysterical and desperate, she is less convincing in transitions and does not make a believable liar. 

Darrel W. Cox (Bobby) and Natasha Lowe (Betty)

Being that I was probably not the only one in attendance who realized the surprise ending a few minutes earlier than I should have, this play is not as suspenseful as it should be.  Also, the plot felt underdeveloped and too often depended on Bobby and Betty revisiting old wounds in an attempt to rip each other apart.  While initially entertaining, this become repetitive over the course of the evening and the ninety minute play felt longer.  In the end, it felt good to bid farewell to the characters.

Bottom line:  In a Forest Dark and Deep is only somewhat recommended.  While there were many elements of the play I enjoyed, I found it lacking in necessary suspense and feeling longer than the ninety minutes it was.  For more information about the play or to purchase tickets, click here:  Also, for more information on other shows, visit Theatre In Chicago.


Photos by:  Wayne Karl

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