Monday, September 8, 2008

Review: The Dark Side of the Moon

Matt Johnston's family drama is moving as expected. The play speaks so universally to our sympathies that one cannot help but shedding a tear for the trials of the family he has created.

Our story takes us through the journey of a Chicago family who learns that their father has terminal cancer. From their normal lives, to the disease's discover, and the father's ultimate death, Johnston takes us through the whole gambit of emotions in their experience. We see the fear, sadness, anger, and hope that are so common in dealing with the slow death of a loved one.

The production lives up to Johnston's script. At the beginning and end of the show as staged as fantastical and cheesy and really detract from the emotional resonance we are left with. But that being the only directorial snafu, the rest of the play progresses quite nicely.

The performances were highlighted by Morgan Christiansen as the daughter. She was able to beautifully balance the self-centered late-teenager with a sense of vulnerability and tenderness. Christiansen found the humanity of her character and made us really love her.

The New Town Writers should be very proud of their first fully staged production. The twenty-eight year old company did a very good job of moving onto the stage and welcoming its audience with open arms. Other than a couple of small lighting mishaps, which were completely out of their control, the evening went off without a hitch. With the diminishing influence of Bailiwick and the loss of their space, look to New Town Writers to be a key new player on the Chicago storefront theatre scene.

Highly recommended for a evening of very moving and honest theatre.

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