Chicago Theatre Review
Norwegian Story Theatre
Nothing of Me – Akvavit Theatre
In the Midwestern premiere of what’s being called “a post-modern ghost story,” written by Norwegian playwright Arne Lygre, we have a strangely detached tale about a youthful middle-aged woman, her young lover, her mother, her abandoned husband and the child she lost. The play’s darkly poetic story theatre style offers a few interesting insights into how love and the need for new adventures, experiences and romantic involvements can sometimes consume a person. Trying to escape the inescapable, however, seems to be the trajectory of this story.
But as the story plays out, under the co-direction of Chad Eric Bergman and Breahan Eve Pautsch, the drama simply feels languid, disconnected and rather jumbled. Events are sketchily depicted; however, they’re almost entirely narrated, rather than shown. The characters break the fourth wall, telling their stories directly to the audience, rather than relating much to each other. As such, Lygre’s play would be equally as effective as an audiobook, with soft, New Age music playing beneath.
Chad Eric Bergman’s etherial scenic design, working in tandem with Emma Deane’s interesting lighting plot, is comprised of dozens of luminescent bulbs attached to black stems of varying lengths seeming to grow out of the floor. They resemble a garden of ghostly illuminated cattails. There’s also a stylish couch, but little else except a gloomy, endless black void.
In the leading role of Me, Bergen Anderson makes a likable protagonist. She freely expresses her every her feeling, often enhanced or contradicted by all that her face and body express. It’s too bad that the playwright has taken her character (and all of the others) out of this play by making Me an almost impersonal storyteller. She’d have been a much stronger force had she been an actual active participant. Dan Wilson makes a handsome He, the object of the woman’s love and passion, and Paul S. Holmquist is quite good as Ex, the husband Me left behind. The finest performance is provided by talented Chicago actress Kirstin Franklin. Playing a range of characters, from a mother to a young child, this accomplished actress brings some much-appreciated depth to her narrative performance.
This is a production that has its merits, but the script, with its disconnected characters and story theatre quality, simply isn’t as compelling. Plays are more effective when they show rather than tell the story. Mr. Lygre’s drama is interesting, has a certain cool style to it, but at the end of the 75 minute performance it leaves the audience as empty and cold as a Norwegian night.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented March 3-April 3 by Akvavit Theatre at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago.
Tickets are available by going to www.brownpapertickets.com.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com