The Play About My Dad Review- a fine and thoughtful drama

The Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago, is currently staging “The Play About My Dad”, a tense and gripping drama in honor of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina , which swept through the Gulf States in August 2005, strewing devastation in it’s wake. Written by Boo Killebrew, the autobiographical play, which opened in New York in June, 2011, is directed by Marti Lyons, the Michael Maggio Directing Fellow at The Goodman Theatre, Chicago. The cast includes Tuckie White as Boo and Joe Mack as her father, Larry Killebrew, a physician who remained in Gulfport, Mississippi to take care of patients injured in this devastating natural and national emergency. All of the actors were spot-on in their portrayals, and all commanded audience attention, but special mention must be made here  of the young Aaron Lamm, who stayed in charachter, and exhibited a wide range of emotion throughout the performance.

Tuckie White

 

Boo Killebrew has done a yeoman’s task in crafting a piece of work that puts the audience in touch, at one and the same time, with many different evocative stories: this is not a simple tale. It’s the story of a fully integrated place and time, of a small town in what would have once been called the deep south, where blacks and whites and Hispanics shared a life together, grew up together, felt free to share each others pains and joys, and where some of them died trying to save each other and secondarily themselves.

Joe Mack, Sandra Watson

 

Each of the characters is central to the plot and none are extraneous. There is the family of three who stayed too late at home, trusting in their dad, hid in terror in the attic and the rafters of the roof through the storm, and were all three swept away by the waters: not all of them returned. There are the two paramedic policeman, one a visionary, the other a skeptic and coward, and the visions and fears they shared throughout. There is the older black woman, a staunch friend and confidante,raised with Dr. Killebrew, who is nobody’s mammy, who scoffs at leaving the home she’s earned and which is a shrine to her dead child. Finally, and most of all, this is the story of the Killebrew family, of a wife and daughter’s betrayal at the hands of their husband and father, how the daughter, Boo, had to flee her small and stifling Southern childhood with it’s memories, and travel to the North to begin a creative life as a playwright, only to achieve her own personal catharsis through the mechanism of experiencing her father as lost after the deluge. When Boo realizes he may be gone, her aloof stance vanishes.

Nick Horst, Patrick Agada

 

 In seeking him out, in finding him alive and well in Gulfport, she is enabled to confront in person and in writing the demons of their shared past. By putting him into her play she reveals him to herself and to the world. He emerges as a very real man whose love for a woman other than his wife had allowed him to derail his rationship with a beloved daughter, but not his duties as a physician. Dr. Killebrew has become one of the many ordinary people whose sense of duty to their communities in an extraordinary time takes them out of the pettiness of their own concerns. Killebrew deftly weaves the stories together in this piece; indeed, there is another layer here. The audience is allowed to watch as she coaches and corrects her father’s pacing and performance as they rehearse her play; she overcomes his concerns that the story she is telling is NOT the real story. In her gentle but firm insistence that HER story is THE story, in his deference to her and ultimately his acceptance, we come to the denouement of the tale.

Miguel Nunez, Aaron Lamm, Paloma Nozicka

 

This play is a well-conceived, well-constructed and well-staged little gem, not just an exciting drama but a real think-piece. The ending may not have been Hollywood-happy, but it is restorative and redemptive. Go see it!

Aaron Lamm

 

 All photo credits courtesy of Dean La Prarie

 

For information and tickets contact raventheatre.com

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