I was a new one once...12 years ago. I came to Chicago right after I graduated from college with my degree in fakery and 5 years of arrested adolescence under my belt. I really didn't have any idea why I was here, except that I knew that Chicago was some kind of place for me to go and "do" theatre and "be" an artist. Now, 12 years later I have a wife and a condo and a baby on the way and a load of friends and colleagues and a little too much around the middle and a taste for good barbeque and a penchant for expensive beer. I guess I "did" some theater and I left some "piles" of art on various tiny stages around the North Side. I'll leave that decision to Nina Metz, ultimately.
(Personal aside: Pokey has a beautiful analysis of the terrible and wonderful chunk of Chicago classic rock "Lake Shore Drive." I thought I was the only one to really explore this song's inherent madness, but author Clint Sheffer and I share a common mania for the guilty pleasures of overbaked hippie rock, it seems. Check this song out here...you'll love and hate it.)
Elsewhere in the highrise lives Kyla, a eightball snorting waitress with some kind of death wish. Played with troubling intensity by Stephanie Polt, Kyla longs for a way to connect but also needs to shut everyone and everything out. She meets a ghost named Harold (a sharp and menacing performance from David Bettino) and brings him home. I wondered if this was an actual ghost, or just another imaginary friend/fiend. Harold treats Kyla with a sort of terrible love, and sees her as a companion in death. Are these only Kyla's suicidal thoughts made into a living and unhinged hallucination?
Eventually Pokey and Kyla meet and have a stumbling evening of beer and drugs and, finally, real connection to another human being. Of course, their respective false/real lovers are not too happy about this and there is a real sense of dread in the idea of your mind trying to stop itself from achieving what you might really need.
This show is a dark and moody poem to being alone with your thoughts and having no way to control them. Director Mark Spence utilizes the Acme Art Works space in surprising ways. This is not a traditional storefront. The play takes place in a huge and nearly decaying church, stained glass of apostles and Jesus in all. I spoke with him a bit after the piece, and I compared the room to a Fundamentalist Christian church I knew from my childhood. It suits the script perfectly, seeing that the workings of your own mind can house an infinite space filled with ghosts and memories and time past.
I admire writer Clint Sheffer's ambition and insight into a condition he must have experienced for himself. The play ends with a great sense of hope, which the characters have definitely earned. The result is a stark and affecting story about this city and the lost and joyous and frightened people that call it home.
It's got three more performances. Really, go see this play. I think all the new ones and the old ones (like myself) can see themselves in it.
Lakefront Property - A
-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer