This weekend I had the opportunity to see Chapatti (written by Christian O’Reilly, directed by Artistic Director BJ Jones, and co-produced by the Galway Arts Festival) at Northlight Theatre. The play, a meditation on the importance of human companionship, is centered around two lonely individuals, Dan (John Mahoney) and Betty (Penny Slusher), living in Ireland.
Though a bit slower to unfold than what some might be accustomed to, we pretty soon find out that Dan is a widower, still mourning the loss of who we can can only assume was his wife. Now suddenly finding himself lonely and isolated, he spends his time occupying the days that the two of them would have once spent together with his dog, Chapatti, taking care of (and often talking to) him in the absence of human company, and visiting his wife’s grave. Betty serves as a caretaker of an elderly neighbor, and, much like Dan, feels isolated and lonely, spending much of her day tending to the daily needs of the woman she takes care of, and then filling the remainder of her days caring for her 19 cats.
One day, just as Dan is leaving the vet’s office, heading for home with Chapatti in tow, the two run into each other — quite literally. (She is entering with a box full of kittens when she actually bumps into him.) Though it’s clear that Dan doesn’t really like her (at least not initially), they meet again in short order — this time under more serious circumstances, after a tragedy involving the elderly neighbor’s cat, Prudence — and it is then that they really begin to get to know one another, thus permitting the audience to get to know the both of them on more than just this surface level as well. As they grow closer and their relationship develops, we quickly learn that there is much more to both of them than meets the eye, as it could be said there is to most people, if you only take the time to get to truly know them.
On the whole, Chapatti is a quiet, deceptively simple, well written, wonderfully acted play. Though a bit slow to start, it is one that could be said to be all the more relevant in our social media-centric times — a time in which, it may be argued, we all interact with one another more, and yet somehow simultaneously manage to fully and truly connect with our fellow human beings on a meaningful level less and less.
Chapatti is has been extended to run through April 19, 2014. Curtain times are Tuesdays at 7:30 PM (except March 18, 25 and April 8), Wednesdays at 1:00 PM (except March 26) and 7:30 PM (except April 2), Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8:00 PM (except Opening on March 14 at 7:30 PM), Saturdays at 2:30 PM (except March 8) and 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 2:30 PM and 7:00 PM (except March 16, 23 and April 13). As always, it is recommended that you consult the theatre's website to verify performance days and times. Northlight Theatre is located at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie. To purchase tickets to Chapatti log onto the Northlight Theatre website, or call the Box Office at 847-673-6300. To learn more about Northlight Theatre, the rest of the 2013-2014 season, or any special events associated with this production, log onto the theatre’s website. To learn more about the Galway Arts Festival, log onto the Galway Arts Festival website.
Production Photos: Michael Brosilow