OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Now playing on the Merrimack Repertory Theatre stage is Eleanor Burgess’ funny and relatable play ‘Chill’. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian and featuring four talented actors, the play takes place on two nights, ten years apart, where four high school friends learn about themselves, each other and how difficult it can be to go from being a teenager to an adult. Act one takes place in 2001 as they impatiently await their college acceptance letters and make plans for their future. Act two takes place in 2011 when the world seems much darker, life has gotten more complicated and they struggle with feeling unaccomplished. The themes of friendship, self-discovery and following your heart were prevalent and clearly portrayed by the cast.
The cast features Danny Bryck as Ethan, Kim Fischer as Stu, Monica Giordano as Alli, and Maria Jung as Jenn. They had great chemistry and were realistic in both ages they had to play. The well written and funny script includes many pop culture references. Each character is different and has their own quirks and personality traits that both compliment and clash with the others. All four actors were solid in their characters and understanding their relationships to each other. Act two really allowed the actors to express the emotional growth of their characters and the complicated aspects of their grown-up lives. Things have not worked out as they’ve expected and they’re not where they’d thought they’d be at this point in their lives. While they still care for each other and enjoy having fun together, the closeness they once had has diminished.
I really appreciated how each act ended strongly with a profound line or phrase. As act one draws to a close, Alli and Jenn are wishing something would happen to break through the boring lives they feel they are stuck in. Little did they know how overwhelmingly their world was about to change. Audio begins to play of the important and traumatic events that began to unfold in 2001, starting with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As Alli and Jenn sit on the couch watching the news reports unfold on the television, their posture and expressions begin to change. Once relaxed, they are now shocked, confused, anxious and distraught. Though they weren’t speaking, Giordano and Jung’s reactions to the audio recordings were powerful. Act two ends with another poignant line from Alli who reassures Jenn that even though things haven’t gone exactly according to plan, they’ll be ok. They have each other’s backs and will continue to support one another.
This play is real to life in all its complexity and clearly shows how confusing our relationships can be. While young adults will more closely relate to this play, its characters and the struggles they face as they try to be mature individuals, older audience members will enjoy it as well.©
Running just over two hours with one intermission, ‘Chill’ plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street Lowell, MA, until April 16th, 2017. Tickets range from $70-$26 with discounts available for groups, students, seniors, Lowell residents, and military service members. To purchase tickets or find more information visit www.mrt.org or call 978-654-4678.
Photo: Maria Jung, Monica Giordano, Danny Bryck, and Kim Fischer. Photo by Meghan Moore.
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/