#229. Next Theatre Company presents the Midwest premiere of WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER. An amputee is discharged from the marines. She is going home or at least that’s the plan. She missed the bus… all of the busses. Jenny is struggling to return to her family. She has changed. She has lost her leg and her way home. Jenny is a casualty of war. When she is unexpectedly befriended at the bus station, Jenny takes a life changing detour through the land of misfits. WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER is a quirky journey to forgiveness.
Playwright Julie Marie Myatt created unique, real characters… emphasis on *characters.* Myatt puts them on an abandoned army base turned desert oasis. Myatt’s world is a one-of-a-kind place of acceptance. It’s a cross between a purgatory and a prison. These flawed folks are working on life improvements. Director Jessica Thebus morphs her cast into this band of eccentrics. Their performances intrigue as we try to determine who-the-hell-are-these-people? In the lead, Jenny Avery (Lou) is hilarious as a former addict. A perky Avery reveals her multiple afflictions that cause her to be in perpetual motion. Avery’s honesty and spunk draw us into her unconventional life. A laid-back Lawrence Grimm (Buddy) is the unlikely religious leader of the weird faction. Grimm delivers bizarre but profound sermons. A brooding Lily Mojekwu plays wounded with equal parts toughness and sadness.
Scenic Designers Rick and Jackie Penrod take us from hospital to bus station to camp crazy. The Penrods cleverly layer the looks and pull back and lift up material to get us to the makeshift home of the nomads. The main set is tented in early American rustic. Discarded refuse serves as colorful accents. This world is definitely a vibrant place to go. And the characters are fascinating. My speed bump was the story was ill-fitting on these misfits. Some of the action wasn’t just unexpected, it was out of character. Once I was vested in these people, I found myself perplexed at conversations that seemed forced in this a la natural culture.
Still, WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER is worth a visit for the exceptional acting .
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street
Written by Julie Marie Myatt
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru December 23rd
Buy Tickets at www.nexttheatre.org
Production photograph by Michael Brosilow