Engaging Comeback! Review: "A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES" (Pine Box Theatre)

Engaging Comeback! Review: "A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES" (Pine Box Theatre)

I like to believe that people are good.  That in the end, they do the right thing.  ‘Yes, I tweeted dick pics.’ ‘Yes, I screwed the housekeeper.’ ‘Yes, I auctioned off a Senate seat.’ They own a mistake!  They admit to a lapse in judgment.  So, if this is what they confess because of coercion, what aren’t they telling us?  After a three-year hiatus, Pine Box Theatre presents the world premiere of A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES. A female undercover cop is missing.  A drunken IHOP patron is interrogated.  The police bully the guy for details.  He’s not talking...much.  By the time the complete story unfolds, everyone will have disclosed a nasty secret.  Either by saying something, doing  something or NOT doing anything, each person will reveal a criminal act.  A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES rivets as a surprising human nature expose.

READ ON OR LISTEN to Audio Podcast at ITUNES Chicago Theatre Reviews for Week of July 8th  Facilitated by Joshua Volkers with Katy Walsh.

Playwright Joshua Rollins penned a play in present time with flashback scenes.  The effect gives the audience an opportunity to hear versions of the story and then compare with reenactments of what really happened.  With Rollins, it’s not one big thrilling reveal.  Dunt dunt da.... Instead, Rollins makes it an ongoing ripple effect of character flaws.  And he doesn’t target all the negativity on just one bad guy.  He spreads it out over everyone.  For good and bad, the characters are all very human with understandable motives.  Under the direction of Matt Miller, the cast embodies these characters with a passionate commitment.

In the lead, Vince Teninty (William) marvelously transforms from guileless victim to.... -WAIT! I don’t want to ruin anything!  Suffice to say, Teninty had my empathy in scene one but at the ending I don’t know how I feel about him. Maybe it’s empathy? Maybe it’s disgust? Teninty rolls out a superb character study that keeps me guessing to the end.  Karen Aldridge (Goggins) and Steve Pickering (Landy) play good cop/bad cop with balanced intensity.  Aldridge has reserved compassion. Pickering is high-energy, volatile. The chemistry between Aldridge and Pickering is tight and vulnerable.  Audrey Francis (Lucy) confidently sells herself as a gum-popping business woman.  Later, Francis' shift from persecutor to victim is heart-wrenching.  Until he was smiling broadly at the curtain call, Sean Parris’(Darnel) mere presence disturbed me.

The only thing I didn’t love about this show was the title.  A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES? Huh?  I loosely connect it to that poem in the movie “Mask” that describes the sun shining on a back as a good AND bad thing.  As a person who always wears sunglasses, I don’t see how sun in my eyes is a good thing.  Regardless, A GIRL WITH SUN IN HER EYES is an engaging comeback for Pine Box Theatre. Here’s hoping it has a domino effect!

Running Time:  One hour and thirty minutes with no intermission includes a delayed start.

At The Second Stage, 3408 N. Sheffield

Written by Joshua Rollins

Directed by Matt Miller

Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm,  Sundays at 7pm

Thru August 7th

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