Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is accepted on a spotty basis as a real psychological disorder. Step Up Productions, a non-profit theater, has taken up its cause by donating proceeds from their “HoliDaze” production to help promote awareness and treatments for this disease.
The subject matter of the five one-act plays assembled in “HoliDaze” would be familiar stuff to those with SAD, and a wide swatch of others who have reason to think of “family time” with jaundiced eyes. Alas, life isn’t a Normal Rockwell painting. Think instead—anger, grief, loneliness, and then add a touch of absurd.
First up was the show that stole the night, Steve Simoncic’s “The Space Behind Your Heart”, which puts us squirming along on a Christmas Eve first date of two 40-somethings who meet via “Christian Mingle”. This play pulls you in with snappy dialogue winning you over at once and keeping you there. How wonderful when a short one-act can catapult you into the lives of two characters that you care about. This was made all the easier by actors Andy Luther and Amanda Powell, directed by Vincent Teninty.
“And The Snow Came Down” by Tate Geborkoff and directed by Tara Branham takes on the subject of dysfunctional families melding for holiday cheer. “Cheer”, that is, if you count hurtful rages unleashed with no shortage of alcohol.
Then there is that feeling of loss that comes to families in the midst of grief for those recently passed. “For My Brother Whenever I May Find Them” by Nambi E. Kelley was first and foremost a showcase for actress Nadirah Bost to charm us with her charisma. She is the ghost of the mother recently passed coming down from heaven to herd her scattered children back together for the holidays. In short order we learn of the ties that bind and ties that break in this family, as so many in the real world.
Put together someone who believes in Christmas as a time of unleashed joy with an agnostic and feel anew that improbable mate you may have had or do have that is not “the one”. “The Intruder” is that story of an ill-matched couple whiling away a Christmas Eve with two different sets of needs for the day, each intruding on the other’s sense of balance in the world. Joshua Rollins’ script has crisp dialogue that puts you in this couple’s claustrophobic world very quickly.
Lisa Dillman went all out taking her hand at a make believe world where Shakespeareanish lingo is spoken in “Christmas is Made for Fools”, the play wrapping up the evening.
Step Up Productions explains that there mission is to cut through the noise and give us the truth. You can see these five versions of “real” through December 22, playing at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Avenue in Chicago.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM
Sundays 2 PM
For tickets or information call 773 935 6875 or visit the Step Up Productions website.
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Photos: Michael Brosilow