Chicago Theatre Review
The Ties That Bind
No Wake – Route 66
A shattering tragedy forces divorced couple Edward and Rebecca back together again in William Donnelly’s new play, now having its Midwest premiere in Chicago. The story is about slowly moving on after the surface turbulence has ended. It’s about not creating any waves, while looking back at the aftermath of a failed marriage. However, the incident that reunites this couple is heartbreaking but character building.
It’s often said that no parent should have to bury his own child and when the death is the result of suicide emotions run even higher. In this story, which begins following a memorial service for their troubled daughter, Rebecca and Edward reconcile, reminisce and ultimately reunite for a time. Romance is rekindled and there are consequences to pay. Roger, Rebeca’s new British husband, tries his best to be civil, with a stiff upper lip, but it’s obviously an awkward situation for everyone. It’s particularly difficult when it’s obvious that there’s still an attraction between his wife and her former husband, despite the tragic reason for their coming together.
Route 66 Theatre’s founder and Artistic Director Stef Tovar turns in another honest, layered performance as Edward. He’s shut down emotionally after his failed marriage and several relationships that haven’t amounted to anything. His performance is matched by the strength and candor of Lia D. Mortensen as Rebecca, portraying yet another memorable, independent woman who has somehow known this tragedy was inevitable. Both exhibit an onstage chemistry that’s believable and realistic. Although a divorced couple, the two characters are united, both in their love for their deceased daughter, as well as for one another. The always excellent Raymond Fox plays Roger, Rebecca’s new husband, who is a proper Englishman with the highest sense of propriety and the lowest tolerance for alcohol. His scenes, particularly with Mr. Tovar, offer some welcome humor and lightness in this 85 minute drama about two loving individuals whose lives have come undone.
Told through realistic dialogue and relatable situations that blend easily into each other upon Brian Sidney Bembridge’s fluid stage set, director Kimberly Senior has paced her production with the easy rhythms necessary for a strained reconciliation and understanding between three people. Sometimes sight lines are compromised far down stage left, but when the main action takes place farther upstage the story unfolds beautifully and with ease.
The new year begins here with a thoughtful and poignant drama about three people trying to navigate their lives, despite a blow of unwelcome grief. The tragedy that reunites Edward and Rebecca forces these two strong, but damaged souls to come together, first because of their united love of their daughter, but ultimately because of an unexpected mutual attraction that still exists. In the aftermath of a failed marriage, it’s the ties that bind these two together that forces them to stop, look back and then cope with what still lies ahead.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented January 6-February 7 by Route 66 Theatre Company at The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
Tickets are available in person or by calling the box office at 773-404-7336 or by going to www.greenhousetheater.org.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com