Chicago Theatre Review
‘Play About My Dad’ a Poignant Look at Hurricane Katrina
The Play About My Dad – Raven Theatre
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and there have been a number of tributes and artistic representations of the storms devastating effects.
“The Play About My Dad,” which is receiving its Midwest premiere at the always excellent Raven Theatre, is one of the more poignant, humanistic treatments on Katrina, and it captures very well the many nuances of the storm and the people it affected.
Set in Gulfport, Mississippi, “The Play About My Dad” is ostensibly what the title betrays, a dramatic telling of playwright Boo Killebrew’s father, a doctor, and his efforts to treat the many wounded individuals left in the storm’s wake. In reality, though, that is only a snippet of the play’s scope, which follows eight other characters (including Boo herself) through a combination of theatrical techniques, including direct addresses to the audience, magical realism, and even rehearsals of the play itself, which pan out as scenes.
The play’s unorthodox structure may become a rub for some viewers, who yearn for a more straightforward telling of the play’s Katrina arc, but in the end, I found the format fitting. In the end, the work is titled “The Play About My Dad,” not “The Play About Katrina,” and I found the show’s asides, backstories, and moments of time travel (magical realism!) to be not only important moments to flesh out the characters, but also fitting with the larger tradition of Southern storytelling; knowing the characters like we do makes the resulting flood that much more moving, if not harrowing at times.
As with all of Raven’s productions, the casting and production are top notch. Under the sured hand of director Matri Lyons (whose recent credits include the excellent “Body and Blood” and “Title and Deed”), the play’s nine-member cast all capture the voice and poise of the show’s Mississippi setting, with Joe Mack, Sandra Watson, and Patrick Agada in particularly fine form; also worth mentioning is young Aaron Lamm, who I have now seen in three productions and whose presence on stage is a wonder to behold.
Hurricane Katrina is a difficult topic to encompass, yet in its brief 90 minutes, “The Play About My Dad” offers a sincere, emotional contribution to what will surely be our never-ending grappling with the storm and its broad implications.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented through Nov. 28 by Raven Theatre Company, 6157 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60660
Tickets are available by calling 773-338-2177 or by visiting www.raventheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.