Chicago Theatre Review
It’s the Journey, Not the Destination at Collaboration
By Lazlo Collins
Collaboraction’s “Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” takes the audience on an 80 minute drive with son Denny (Ethan Dubin,) and father Ky (Sean Bolger). What is unique about this particular drive is this memory play’s approach to the material and dialogue. The ambient sounds of the road and the visual images surrounding the set help keep this simple story in focus. The divorced father picking up his son from soccer and bringing him home is duplicated hundreds of times all over the globe. As the ride goes on, we get a sense of the strained relationship of the two gentlemen.
Both roles were excellently played by Mr. Bolger, as the father; and Mr. Dubin as the son. Their banter, while seated in the car, was realistic; complete with all the fighting and
ncomfortable moments when forced to be in the car with your parent. Under the well done direction of Sarah Moeller, their immediate energy was excellent and you could sense they were comfortable with each other as actors, while they took the script through its twists and turns. I felt that they were really listening to each other and not just “acting”. I enjoyed both characterizations; despite the fact the father would not be one of my favorite people in real life. And kudos to you Mr. Bolger for making me like you in the end.
It’s the normal chatter between parent and child; but wait, as the engine roars so do the arguments and opinions. Is the mother to blame? Is the father not listening? Is the son both curious and disgusted by his parents?
Exploring these questions within the theme of the play can be difficult. The story seemed to move forward, then move back; from bright to dark and so on. At times, this exemplified the conflict and unrest; but at other times the choppiness of the dialogue muddled the simple story. I realize that the play’s construction was a calculated construct to keep guessing, but also keeping us informed. Somehow it took away from the emotional impact of the play. While Dan LeFranc’s script seemed real, the characters breathed life into this simple story.
The designers did a stunning job at creating the car and its surroundings. The video and sound designs were superb and should be considered characters themselves as they continually surrounded the actors. I could not imagine this play without these elements.
“Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” was a mostly satisfying drive; but, at times, I wanted to get out and stretch my legs. Perhaps it was the inherent comfortableness between father, son, and circumstance that made the ride a bit long for me. But maybe that is what the author set out to highlight and observe.
Without giving anything away, I will say that when the characters got out of the car at the end, it was distracting and completely took me out of the drive. The final scene would have served me much better as a memory on film that I might remember and smile; instead it seemed hokey.
But like all scenic tours, it is up to us what we view out our window, and what we remember from the ride. I recommend you go the distance on your “Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” and see where your memory takes you.
“Sixty Miles to Silver Lake” runs through 27 May 2012 at Collaboration. At the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N Milwaukee Ave. 312-226-9633 or collaboraction.org