BWW Review: GIBBERISH MOSTLY Has a Lot to Say at Ground Floor Theatre
GIBBERISH MOSTLY, a new play by Max Langert, is an examination of a family dealing with a child suffering from a neurological disorder. In this case, we are talking about severe autism, and what is being examined is how and why choices are made. In the case of severe autism, it isn't that communication has broken down, but, rather that it is almost impossible.
While Langert's script has a lot to say, it suffers from clarity of message. The failure to communicate that is experienced between daughter and parent extends to a failure to communicate between playwright and audience. We, as an audience, are left trying to figure out just what is going on. There are four characters here but communication only happens between couples.
Director Lisa Scheps has done a terrific job establishing the two worlds. The scenic design, which is uncredited, other than consultation and construction credited to Chris Conard and Kevin Squires, is terrific. One side is sunny, the other is devoid of color and all of it is in a sort of forced perspective that tells you that the world you are viewing is off. Similarly, the lighting design by Marissa Grace Johnson supports then action of the play well. Patti Neff-Tiven has also done a great job with the props.
One of the chief problems with the production is casting. Although Julie Linnard does a terrific job portraying the severely autistic Nicole, it is impossible to believe that she is 22. This took me out of the moment more than once and was confusing. Holley Garrison has been given a part that is unclearly written as the caretaker/doll Penny that she works hard to clarify for the audience. As the parents, Rose and Dan, Suzanne Balling and Dale Sandish give standout performances. They only problem arises when the script doesn't seem to give them sufficient motivation for their actions as the script reaches its climax.
GIBBERISH MOSTLY tackles an important subject with wit, however, it needs more work so that the audience isn't left in the dark for as long as it is in it's current presentation. With some clarity and focus, this could be a powerful and deeply affecting work.
GIBBERISH MOSTLY by Max Langert
Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission
GIBBERISH MOSTLY, produced by Ground Floor Theatre (979 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX, 78702).
Thursdays-Sundays, September 21 - September 30, 2017 at 8 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m.
Suggested ticket price is $25, however Ground Floor Theatre's shows are always pay what you can. Just go to the box office page and choose the ticket price that works for you.