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Review: RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS at Interrobang Theatre Project

With the tragedy of 9/11, thousands of lives were turned upside down in an instant. Others were faced with a lingering sense of helplessness. As the hours, and in some cases days passed, there were attempts by many to locate loved ones who were unaccounted for in the aftermath. That painful waiting game plays out in Craig Wright's Recent Tragic Events produced by Interrobang Theatre Project.

The plot revolves around Andrew (Matthew Nerber) who arrives at the Minneapolis apartment of Waverly (Laura Berner Taylor) for a blind date. As Waverly finishes getting ready, we sense her anxiety as she's attached to her phone and is clearly distracted. As the two converse, and find a common bond of over the books on Waverly's shelves, along comes neighbor Ron (Maximillian Lapine) and his friend Nancy (Rachel Christianson). We learn that Waverly's twin sister lives in New York City and has not been heard from since the towers fell in lower Manhattan.

Through a series of twists, a connection between Andrew and Waverly's twin is revealed. We also meet a puppet version of author Joyce Carrol Oates (skillfully portrayed by Christianson), who turns out to be Waverly's aunt. We are taught a thing or two about fate and that our paths are not so easily manipulated, but rather destined.

The comedy in this piece does a decent job of distracting from the weight of this horrible event. The characters do their best to focus on other things as they wait for "the call."

In this production, a solid ensemble of actors keeps things light when necessary, but find edginess in their despair. While the chemistry between Nerber and Taylor isn't always on point, they each have strong moments when their characters' realizations take hold. Nerber is especially endearing when he discloses a sad piece of the puzzle to Waverly. Without any lines as Nancy, Christianson steals many moments with a simple gesture or smile a la a silent screen star. As the puppet version of Oates, her performance is grounded and sincere.

Wright's writing occasionally loses steam and the pace slows, especially during a card game sequence at the top of act two. Sometimes it feels like we are left out of the inside joke. But director Georgette Verdin finds the right moments to heighten things and we hold our breath each time the phone rings.

There are sure to be many more plays written about 9/11 and its impact on our lives. Recent Tragic Events may not be a perfect one, but it's an intriguing look at a story that could be told by so many.




From This Author - Patrick Rybarczyk

Patrick Rybarczyk is a Jeff and After Dark Award-winning Chicago based actor. Patrick has worked both on stage and administratively for nearly 25 years with several of Chicago’s leading theatre... (read more about this author)


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