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Theater Review: Luna Gale

Goodman Theatre Presents Luna Gale

Luna GaleWritten by Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Robert Falls
Principle Cast: Jordan Baker (Cindy), Reyna de Courcy (Karlie), Melissa R. Duprey (Lourdes), Mary Beth Fisher (Caroline), Erik Hellman (Cliff), Colin Sphar (Peter) and Richard Thieriot (Pastor Jay).
Set Designer: Todd Rosenthal
Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel
Sound Designer: Richard Woodbury
Costume Designer: Kaye Voyce

Tweetable Review: Sharp writing, solidly talented cast & stupendous stage design make for poignantly intriguing production

Perhaps what they say is true – truth is stranger than fiction. You see it almost any day when you flip your tv on & view something which seems utterly a work of imagination but unveiled as truth, garnering unexpected responses in the vein of “oh no!” or “holy sh- wow!!”. While watching the story, you catch yourself for just a moment before really examining the situation that you’ve been handed – pondering a myriad of thoughts – am I being overexcited, why am I emotionally invested, how would I react if I were in the same situation, this is the World we live & it isn’t much different from yesterday – the list goes on and on. For social worker Caroline, the case of Luna Gale – minor child, has come across the desk and nothing about it is different from any other file, and that’s what makes the situation all that much more crushingly despairing to solve.

Luna Gale 2Opening on a florescent-colored and starkly skewed room, Karlie paces nervously across a Cedar Rapids emergency room floor as her significant other, Peter naps obliviously to the World outside of his closed eye lids. The couple are waiting to hear about the status of their child Luna, who has been omitted into the hospital for some rather alarming medical conditions which were a result of neglect while the couple had been pre-occupied with their crystal meth addition. Now, nearly 3 hours at the hospital waiting room, the first person in which the couple certainly aren’t expecting to greet is Caroline, a Child Protection Service agent whose come to explain that the ill child is to be taken into service until such time in which the couple can provide a suitable home for Luna. The person, we learn, who shall take temporary claim over the child is Karlie’s divorced mother, Cindy (Jordan Baker).

Luna Gale 3Admittedly, from the outside, having a child taken into care by an adult who isn’t addicted to illegal substances as demonstrative as crystal meth, can provide for a child better than its’ own parents and is within the same family makes for possibly a no-brainer in keeping Luna out of the foster system – its a one and done case. Unfortunately, when Caroline soon learns of Cindy’s devotion to her Christian faith and belief in saving Luna prior to The Rapture, thoughts quickly begin to waver of the grandmother’s true motives in child care.

Unfortunately, due to the narrative growth and the situational unravelings of this particular show, giving out any further details and plot points would significantly spoil the rest of Luna Gale;  I would like to reserve judgement in not revealing a more in-depth plot description.  Suffice it to say however, from a setup standpoint, Rebecca Gilman’s newest show which is having it’s World Premiere at the Goodman Theatre until Feb 23, is pretty much complete in terms of a premise, but the ensuing action in the following drama is nothing less than a gut punch.

Luna Gale 4Gilman’s script is fierce – end of story. As a multi-tiered piece of work, Luna Gale asks audiences to face many questions that few people deal with on a day-to-day basis – and then asks them to give answers. The result is an emotionally grounded piece that will speak volumes on child care, social work and themes of morality within oneself and the prejudgment of others, but done so in a finely balanced line of wry humor & deliberate reflection on personal & societal faults, without going preaching.

The notable director Falls, gives audiences a compact and blossomed World of dramatic action that at all points seems complete & interconnected & again, without being falsely strained. Fall’s combination of working material & talent in acting & design make for a production that is fresh, gaited and immediately prevalent with an intimacy that’s flawed at times (only a positive manner here) but completely raw in vein.

While all of the cast is strong and mention worthy, it’s Mary Beth Fisher’s Caroline that people will leave talking about. The role is nuanced & severely equitable here, with a sense that what was once a chord of warmth & care has now withered into dispirit & cynicism. Fisher’s performance is a top reason audiences will love Luna Gale – that, and Todd Rosenthals supremely intrinsic set,  which is much like Caroline’s files – a set of complexed images that are constantly rotating in and out of her life, and to which each set boasts a set of characters or scenery no one wants to stay with for too long of a stretch.

As a whole, Luna Gale is a very well done production that just works extremely well on many levels due to the uncanny combination and chemistry of Gilman & Falls. Weirdly enough however, unlike the most recent Chicago-based play adaptation of August: Osage County, Luna Gale may be far better suited for a screen adaptation than one of stage for multiple reasons. With that said, and until the time comes that Gilman’s work is snatched up for Hollywood, you still have a rare opportunity to catch this great treat going on at the Goodman until February 23rd – don’t miss it.

When: Through Feb. 23
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.
Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Tickets: $25-$81 (subject to change) at 312-443-3800 or goodmantheatre.org

Fresh Roasted Rating: A – Must See

~ Matt Miles, 24/7 Contributor
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films

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