Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Preview: The Dark Side of the Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon
by Matthew Johnston
Presented by New Town Writers
Performing at Chemically Imbalanced Theatre
1420 W. Irving Park Road

This is a story about a regular American family. There is nothing unusual about them except that the father has cancer.

Matthew Johnston has written a lovely new play that examines a family's having to deal with cancer. This play excels where many other cancer or illness plays fail: it is a non-sentimental look at a very emotional situation. The play does not fall into the trap of being self-pitying or even trying to provide all of the answers. We are simply shown a slice of life that is so universal that you cannot helped but be moved because it will touch a slice of you.

Each character is given a chance to tell their story. The father, mother, college-aged daughter, and teen-aged son, all are given the opportunity to step outside the play and speak directly to the audience. Here was are showing the frustration, sorrow, fear, and anger, that they are all going through. Johnston again avoids the danger of these asides detracting from the emotion of the play and using it to express what he didn't know how to incorporates. Rather, they enrich it by giving us the perspective of years beyond the events as well as reactions to the events as they happen; truly it is icing on the cake.

This play is a rare gem that is simple but has been well thought out. Johnston's careful crafting has make it profound in its simplicity. It is a story that will strike a chord with anyone who goes to see it.

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