INGENIOUS ARC KEEPS ‘TWILIGHT BOWL’ ROLLING!
Ever wondered how things you did in your childhood impacted the friends and family who were around you at the time? If someone asked them years later to say something nice about you, could they, or would the conversation shift to one of those high-risk activities that surely play out much better in life’s rearview mirror? Who remembers all those stupid mistakes we made growing up that were so embarrassing you could never tell your mother?
The absorbing backstories of the young women in “Twilight Bowl,” the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s delectable slice-of-rural-life directed by Erica Weiss that opened Tuesday at Goodman Theatre, flicker intensely in the neon glow of a Wisconsin bowling alley as Jaycee (Heather Chrisler), her best friend Clarice (Hayley Burgess), cousin Sam (Becca Savoy) and faith-based pal Sharlene (Anne E. Thompson) huddle around a table in the bar. Jaycee’s colorful past is sometimes shocking and there is cake, but we soon discover that she has made some bad choices recently and will be going away for a while. For the group’s members, who have spent their youth together and worked and grew up in and around the bowling alley, this is bittersweet farewell.
Sam represents the success story, a competitor who earned a bowling scholarship to Ohio State. Clarice will stay in town. Sharlene is deeply tied to the church and wants to continue to be a source of strength for Jaycee and everyone else. So, despite some harsh words about how things worked out, they all commit to their friendship going forward, or so it seems.
Several months later, during Thanksgiving break, Sam returns from college with her new-found friend Maddy (Angela Morris). The bartender Brielle (Mary Taylor), who is taking time away from her education, learns why Maddy is there, instead of with her family back in Winnetka on the North Shore. And after losing a friendly bowling wager to boost Sam’s spirits, Maddy wears out her welcome with one of the women. The ingenious arc of the 90-minute story exposes a range of youthful emotions, from regret and jealously to reconciliation, in the splendidly paced character study.
Gilman, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Goodman Artistic Associate and Northwestern professor, created “Twilight Bowl” with a commission from the Big Ten Theatre Consortium, which is committed to improving gender equity in the theater. She developed the work in association with Goodman’s 2017 New Stages Festival. The Goodman premiere features the original New Stages cast and is unique for its all-female creative and production team, including Weiss, a Chicago-based director, filmmaker and television writer who is also co-creator and executive producer of the new CBS series “The Red Line”; Regina Garcia’s set design; costumes and lighting by Izumi Inaba and Cat Wilson; and original music and sound design by Victoria Deiorio.
This is a poignant coming-of-age story, a fascinating exploration of emerging personalities that are the sum of their individual and collective life experiences. As the women of “Twilight Bowl” confront challenging personal situations, and struggle to cope with the anxiety their decisions cause, they run headlong into the small-town nature of things—rural values that can be overwhelming for anyone not accustomed to the unique pace and rhythm. Or perhaps more to the point, in the rush to escape where we have been, let’s not forget that the sense of security of our youth, and those erstwhile relationships, will always be part of who we are and how we would like to be remembered.
through March 10th
170 N Dearborn Street
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