Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
As Much As You Can
In Paul Oakley Stovall's "dramedy," Jesse, a gay black man, brings his Swedish lover Kristian to his childhood home in Chicago for a wedding. Sparks would have flown if the family simply reunited without the unexpected guest, since they're such a diverse group. Evie, the eldest, is a teacher and devout Christian; her siblings' beliefs vary. Jesse, who's been away for five years, is and is not ready to "out" his lover to Evie, knowing she wants that closet locked forever. Along with having a sharp wit, the playwright has a knack for shaping scenes and issues (especially gay marriage). Stovall crafts the questions so well, in fact, that his abrupt, would-it-were-so conclusion feels tacked on. Ably directed by Antonio T.J. Johnson, the Diversionary Theatre cast communicates above all else a joy in doing this show. Ida L. Rhem's Evie is such a convincing, adamant force that it makes her change hard to believe. Kevane La'Marr Coleman's Jesse, Patrick Kelly's Tony, and Leticia Martinez's Ronnie show how disparate, yet ultimately loving, a family can be. Though his Swedish accent wanders in and out, Brian Mackey adds Kristian to his growing list of impressive credits. And Melissa Coleman Reed's feisty Nina alone makes the show worth seeing. I saw her in minor roles for Ion Theatre's U.S. Drag and hoped Reed could land a showcase role soon. She has and struts with panache.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, January 25, 2009
- Sundays, 2pm & 7pm
- Thursdays, 7:30pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm