PICKSINSIX Review: CURVE OF DEPARTURE
“NOT ALL THE WAY CRAZY YET!”
Blurred lines… All of us come to grips with our family relationships every day, some better than others. But what about when the lines are blurred or the familial relationship is all but non-existent? It is can be particularly all-consuming when we must face the passing of someone who we feel should have been closer to us. Or someone who may not have risen to our expectations, hurt us emotionally, or, worst of all, slowly lost their ability to remember anything at all.
Recent diagnosis… In Northlight Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Rachel Bonds “Curve of Departure” currently playing at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Rudy (Mike Nussbaum) and his daughter-in-law Linda (Penelope Walker) are passing time late in the evening in a Santa Fe hotel room. Cyrus, his absent son and Linda’s ex-husband who is the father of her equally abandoned son, has died enexpectedly and the family is gathering for his funeral the following day. The son Feliz (Sean Parriss) and his partner Jackson (Danny Martinez) are scheduled to arrive from the west coast and Rudy’s agitated state alternates from excitement to confusion. He has already accepted the recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but, as he states with conviction later on, “I’m not all the way crazy yet!”
Deep connection… Linda shares Rudy’s feelings of abandonment, but has nurtured and cared for her father-in-law and is preparing for the long road ahead with him. There is a deep connection that feels very natural, even as key elements of his stories start to drift out of Rudy’s memory.
Providing comfort… When Felix and Jackson arrive, simmering emotions begin to boil as they each face their collective past and an uncertain future that has piqued Linda’s curiosity. Mothers have a way of placing things in perspective for their children. Daughters and sons have a way of providing comfort to their fathers even as other aspects of their reality slips away. What is left in the middle is often complex, but it’s our family and, ultimately, that is all that matters.
Laugh and cry… Aided by Bonds beautiful dialogue and Northlight Artistic Director BJ Jones keen direction, Nussbaum so wraps himself around Rudy that you will laugh and cry, often in the same breath. Nussbaum’s natural exuberance and the chemistry developed with Walker is heartfelt. Walker’s unique blend of authority and vulnerability — one moment fervently questioning her son’s choices and, in the next, baring her soul to him about the past — highlights her moving performance. Parris and Martinez expertly navigate the difficulties within their relationship which is central to the family storyline.
Extraordinary human being… In the end, the 94 year-old Nussbaum, Equity’s oldest actor, appears to be just getting started. There is no finer way to honor his contributions, and celebrate his art, than to spend some enjoyable time with this extraordinary human being and the superb cast of “Curve of Departure.”
Curve of Departure
through October 21st
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Boulevard