Chicago Theatre Review
Hinderaker inspires audience to “Change the World”
By Kayland Smyth
If a typical 9 year old were to write a list it would be entitled “Things I want to accomplish before I turn 10.” Unless of course you are John Chapman, the main character in Andrew Hinderaker’s play I Am Going to Change the World, directed by Jonathan Berry. His list included goals of becoming a Billionaire by 35 and purchasing the Sears Tower. My first thought was “that kid has big dreams and I hope he achieves them. But that’s going to change by the time he’s in high school,” and it did; but not in the way I thought.
In this inspiring drama, at the Chicago Dramatist Theatre, the playwright not only makes the audience cling to the edge of their seat, but also sit back and think. Think and wonder whether this child would achieve his dreams.
The play opens with John, played by Nicholas Harazin, at his college graduation as valedictorian at the University of Chicago. We learn that he has achieved two of his lifetime goals and assume that he will achieve the rest when he announces that he has an interview with his dream company. But when he goes to sleep and awakes the next morning, on the day of what was to be his big interview, he is given the shock of his life. He is already 35 and has suffered an injury which caused him to lose his memory. It is now up to his parents, Marla (Meg Thalken) and Frank (Norm Woodel), best friend Troy (Ed Flynn), whom he does not remember ever befriending, and psychiatrist Dr. Jensen (Judy Blue) to help him come to terms with what has happened and move on from the list he wrote back when he was 9.
There were quite a few things I liked about this production. First, I enjoyed the director’s vision of having no set changes. When the curtain opens you see three different locations, the Chapman’s kitchen, John’s room and an office. My initial reaction to this set-up was “this is different and it works.” This took away from numerous distracting set changes. Another element that caught my eye was the use of the projector. If the actors were in the kitchen, scenery that you would see outside was projected. If the office scene was in use, the Chicago skyline was projected. If John and Troy were playing the Wii the audience was able to see what game they were playing. If John was on the computer the audience was able to see what websites he was using. I applaud Berry on his interpretation of Hinderaker’s script. As far as the cast I felt that every member did an excellent job at portraying their characters.
I Am Going to Change the World is the final production of the Chicago Dramatists’ 2011-2012 season. It runs May 24-July 1 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 Chicago Ave. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8p and Sundays at 3p. Tickets are $32 and student tickets are available at Thursday performances for $15. For tickets visit www.chicagodramatists.org box-office.