“ANYTHING CAN REALLY AND TRULY HAPPEN.”
The world premiere of Christina Anderson’s “How To Catch Creation” directed by Niegel Smith that opened Monday at Goodman Theatre, has all the elements of an elaborate jigsaw puzzle that, when complete, forms a tapestry of interconnecting relationships. The pieces of Anderson’s richly humanistic work involves five people all searching for the creative passion that births inspiration, fulfillment and love. Anderson’s skillfully chiseled scenes and fierce writing proves that “Anything can really and truly happen” as her characters discover their corresponding edges and nest together in a fascinating and cleverly amusing exploration of possibilities.
Director Niegel Smith, whose stirring interpretation of Suzan-Lori Parks’ ‘Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)’ played last season in the Goodman’s Owen, has paired the superby talented Karen Aldridge (Tami) and Keith Randolph Smith (Griffin) as longtime friends who share secrets, dreams and expectations when we first meet them in 2014. Tami is a painter and directs an art program at the university in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Griffin has been wrongfully imprisoned for most of his adult life, until his conviction was recently overturned with Tami’s help. Into their lives comes Riley (May Vinice Prentiss) and Stokes (Bernard Gilbert) who are hoping to make a life together. Stokes has been repeatedly rejected from art programs and Riley, an IT specialist, takes matters in her own hands to make a direct entry on his behalf. Jasimine Bracey plays a burgeoning author, G.K Marche, whose work figures prominently as a buoy for the elements of the story that are revealed in the mid-60s home that Marche shares with her partner Natalie, played by Ayanna Bria Bakari.
Aldridge’s smart, exuberant performance will grow on you, bubbling with passion and vulnerability that is heartfelt and sincere. With Smith, who never succombs to the darker sides of the frustration and overwheming resistance brought about by his impassioned desire to have a child, the two keep Anderson’s characters vibrant and real. Prentiss and Gilbert successfully keep pushing the restart button on both their own complicated relationship and their interactions with others, not an easy assignment in a close knit ensemble with radial shifts in time and place. Through the various twists and turns of the emotional and storytelling dial, the work of Bracey and Bakari is engrossing and delivers some of finest and most touching moments of the piece.
Todd Rosenthal’s fascinating design mirrors the interconnectivity of the characters, finished on all four sides, shifting exquisitely on two nearly concentric turntables with the evolving scenes to he piercing tones of Justin Ellington’s original score. The contemporary costumes by Jenny Mannis glimmer under Allen Lee Hughes intricate lighting design.
“How To Catch Creation” evolved from a staged reading at the 2017 Goodman Theatre New Stages Series, a testiment to the theatre’s long-standing commitment to the development of new works and the high-caliber emerging playwrights like Christina Anderson who are creating them.
At the core of this work is the idea that we are all authors of our own story from its conception and birth to whatever comes next. The story that we are meant to tell, that gives us meaning, purpose and leaves behind a legacy, is unique to each us. Sometimes we must soldier through to whatever scenario is on the other side. And then there are times that we must just let go, lead with the heart, and trust our gut. Either way creation is a process that requires others. We cannot do it alone.
HOW TO CATCH CREATION
through February 24th
170 N Dearborn
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago