Review “No Wake” (Route 66): Still Waters Too Still

Sunday, January 17, 2016 Permalink

NoWake-3Route 66 Theatre Company presents the Midwest Premiere of NO WAKE.

The sailing term ‘no wake’ means to proceed without making waves. A boat operates at a minimal speed until it clears the zone. Playwright William Donnelly uses the term for the title of his play about parents grieving the loss of a daughter. Unfortunately, it was the lack of turbulent waters that detached me from what could have been an engaging voyage.

The play starts out with an animated Raymond Fox (Roger) rambling on to a stoic Stef Tovar (Edward).  As Fox prattles on about turtles, a vacant Tovar eats his pretzels. From Fox’s drunken monologue, we piece together they are strangers thrown together for a funeral. When Lia Mortensen (Rebecca) arrives, we realize these guys are her current and past husbands.  The premise of an estranged couple burying their adult child has deep emotional possibilities. Add into the mix, they were also both estranged from their daughter. The regret and betrayals make for this complex web of fragile relationships. The subject matter is palpable. The execution is not.

Although Fox exhibits a range of over-the-top emotional outbursts, Tovar and Mortensen do not. Director Kimberly Senior keeps their performances understated especially Tovar.  In the first scene, Tovar nicely contrasts Fox’s frenzy. Later, we are waiting for his bottled-up emotion to erupt.  It never does. Tovar even has a line referencing the play title about not making waves. His delivery may be a ‘still waters run deep’ focus but that choice keeps the audience from caring about these people. As we discover more sad tidbits about the daughter, Tovar and Mortensen respond with increasing flirtation. Their casual grieving as parents is disconcerting.  At one point, Fox explains Mortensen is confused. Really? I don’t see it.  For a couple angry at each other, Tovar and Mortensen are fairly amicable which make them not terribly likable for the audience.    

NO WAKE really was no wake for the deceased.  It seemed like a rom-com wannabe trying to avoid discussing the pesky dead body in the room. 

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln

Written by William Donnelly

Directed by Kimberly Senior

Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm

Thru February 7th

Buy tickets www.greenhousetheater.org 

For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit Theater in Chicago.

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