Review “To Catch a Fish” (Timeline Theatre): Baited, Hooked and Reeled In!

Timeline Theatre presents the world premiere of TO CATCH A FISH.

Playwright Brett Neveu knows how to filet a fish tale. He cuts and exposes guts immediately. Neveu drops us into a conversation between Geno Walker (Terry) and Jay Worthington (Ike). An aggressive Worthington is trying to impress and dominate over an enthralled Walker. The combination of Worthington’s steady stream of bullsh#t and Walker’s endearing demeanor has my maternal instincts on red alert. A confident Anji White (G) and a blustery Stephen Walker (Dex) join Worthington in the coercive -almost flirtatious- banter. Their over-the-top friendliness to Walker has me suspicious.  They want him to pass out fliers but something smells real fishy! Neveu has caught me in his net of intrigue.

Walker than peddles his bike over to Rochelle’s house (played by the feisty Tiffany Addison). An angry Addison berates him for leaving his phone at his grandma but her mood softens to Walker’s winsome smile. As they canoodle on her porch, I’m wondering what this street smarts gal wants with this sweet -yet undeniably slow- guy.  Walker then peddles to his grandma’s (played with distinction by a sharp-tongued Linda Bright Clay).  He bikes up on Clay chewing out his cousin Dontre (played by an exasperated Al’Jaleel McGhee). Clay’s tone and whole body convey she isn’t putting up with any shenanigans from the protesting McGhee. With Walker’s appearance, Clay easily transitions into grandma-mode and fusses over him. A now annoyed McGhee also wants Walker’s attention. The heart of this story is the captivating and vulnerable Walker. Although his innocence is everyone’s focus of interest and affection, are these characters innocent of wrong-doing?

Neveu pens well-developed characters with palpable back stories and complicated relationships. Director Ron OJ Parson skillfully navigates his talented ensemble. Their portrayals are authentic. Their banter feels spontaneous and unscripted. This is how real people talk, stumble through conversations and endure a regrettable life. Neveu unravels his story with knots and unfinished honesty.

I enjoyed TO CATCH A FISH immensely. Neveu provided the bait. Parsons hooked me. And the talented ensemble reeled me in. My play date and I started talking about the play at curtain and were still texting about it the next morning.

Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission

At Timeline Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Avenue

Written by Brett Neveu

Directed by Ron OJ Parson

Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm

Buy tickets at Timeline Theatre

Photos by Lara Goetsch

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

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