Sean Daniels’ autobiographical, dark comedy, “The White Chip”, shares his past struggles with alcoholism, the science of addiction and his path to recovery. Though it sounds like this story could easily be an hour and a half depressing lecture, Daniels approaches the topic with wit and humor that captures and holds the audiences’ attention.
Writing an autobiographical play about a very difficult time in one’s life can be a terrifying experience. Not only that but having the play performed in front of an audience of your neighbors, colleagues, friends and patrons; it’s no wonder Daniels was a bit anxious about this one. In sharing his story he becomes the voice that he needed, but didn’t hear, in his own darkest moments, and through this wonderfully written play he is that voice for others in the midst of their struggle with addiction.
Fantastically directed by Sheryl Kaller three incredible actors bring this play to life. Jeffrey Binder, as Sean, is dynamic, captivating and delivers an emotionally charged performance. In the first few minutes of the play he grabs the audiences’ attention and when they start laughing, I realize this play is not going to be what I expected; it’s going to be better. Isabel Keating and Benjamin Evett round out the trio playing a variety of characters including: Sean’s parents, wife, others in recovery, co-workers, and the list goes on. Their ability to portray so many vital people in Sean’s life ties the story together perfectly. The connection between this cast is unparalleled and it demonstrates their 100% commitment to sharing this important, timely and culturally relevant story.
The technical aspects of this production really helped put it on a whole other level. Projections, designed by Aaron Rhyne, and illustrations, by Julie Felise Dubiner, added both realism and amusement to the play.
While this play was funny at times and sad at others, throughout it offered the audience a glimpse into the world of addiction from the addicts’ point of view rather than that of a bystander. This play is unlike any I have ever read or seen and I believe it is being performed at exactly the right time based on our country’s current drug overdose crisis. It epitomizes the notion that something good can come from something bad. There can be life after addiction and Sean Daniels is living proof of that fact.
“The White Chip” plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (Lowell, MA) until January 31st 2016 with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets and more information can be found at www.mrt.org/whitechip.
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