PICKSINSIX Review: Cal in Camo
"Nature knows what it is doing."
A powerful statement… There is a looming truth hovering over Cal, a new mother who is coping with her insecurities in Cal in Camo, the Chicago premiere of the William France Hoffman drama directed by Hallie Gordon now playing at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. This is a powerful statement about physical and emotional isolation, familial abandonment and, ultimately, restoring trust and hope.
What you will like… Mixed in with the genuinely heartfelt reality of the subject matter are some really touching moments and more than a few observations on life that will make you laugh out loud.
Why we care… We care deeply for the characters because we are either related to them or we have known someone just like them. Every one of them.
What it’s about… Cal, and her husband Tim, have moved away from the comfort of Tim’s Bridgeport neighborhood, and a lucrative sales territory, to their first home in Sterling, Illinois, built on shaky ground. Things between them seem to be unraveling right from the start, talking at each other and keeping secrets. Tim is stuck hawking fruit-flavored beer to bars. Cal struggles mightily with depression, alone, frustrated and frightened that she will never bond with her newborn. So, she decides to fly her backwoodsman brother Flynt to visit following the drowning of his wife - not the ideal makings of a happy family reunion, to be sure. But, as haunting as this setup sounds, the plain-talking Flynt’s arrival is a seismic shift. It does not take long before a storm starts to rage and Flynt’s powerfully gripping influence is felt by everyone. “Nature knows what it is doing,” he says, “Just like water finds a way.”
Top drawer work all around… Ashley Neal gives a gritty, raw and unfailingly honest performance as Cal. Eric Slater(Tim) expertly navigates the emotional space between Cal’s debilitating frustration and the imposing demeanor of Flynt, powerfully portrayed by Keith Kupferer, whose wide-ranging talent is on full display. Credit Director Gordon for digging deep to explore the underlying elements of these relationships and, in so doing, fully realize Hoffman’s moving and forceful imagery.
The takeaway… It is not always easy to see what is coming next, and sometimes harder still to know exactly how we got into the situation in the first place. So, the only real option left is to be honest with ourselves and those around us, do the best we can when it is our turn, accept the consequences and, then, move on.
RIVENDELL THEATRE ENSEMBLE
Cal In Camo
Written by William Frances Hofman
Directed by Hallie Gordon
through February 17, 2018
5779 North Ridge Avenue