Silk Road Rising presents THE LAKE EFFECT, a play originally commissioned by Silk Road Rising and Crossroads Theatre (New Brunswick, New Jersey) with development support from the Lark Play Development Center (New York City).
This guy walks into a restaurant. The guy behind the counter says, ‘we’re closed.‘ The first guy, a gregarious man, continues to prattle as he takes a seat and pulls out his paper. The counter guy gets increasingly angry. The customer guy is unfazed. The customer is African American. The counter guy is Indian American. The set-up is immediately curious just based on ethnic. Then, it becomes compelling based on entitlement. Each of these guys believes he has a stronger right to be in the restaurant.
Under the skillful direction of Timothy Douglas, the clash between Mark Smith (Bernard) and Adam Poss (Vijay) is authentic. As Smith and Poss deconstruct their relationship with the owner, Douglas keeps the conversation naturally flowing. The chatty Smith makes a casual statement and a hot-headed Poss overacts with a well-placed ‘what?’ It’s as hilarious as it is mysterious. The conversations engage for their unfolding revelations. The audience is continually trying to figure out who’s zooming who. The extraordinary Smith endears for his vulnerability and innocence. In one scene, he asks his mother for guidance to ‘do the right thing.’ The moment is beautifully poignant and may require a tissue or two.
Contrasting Smith perfectly, Poss is uptight and guarded. He delivers his lines in cockiness with an underlying despair. At one point, Poss shares his childhood burden to his unsympathetic sister, Minita Gandhi (Priya). Gandhi plays it self-absorbed with a side of spoiled. The character is so deliciously wrong, it’s amusing. Initially, especially next to Smith and Poss, Gandhi seems artificial and stilted. A few times, she even appeared to be on the verge of laughing. Eventually, she gets comfortable in the role and does a Barbie bit that is hysterical. By keeping them real, Douglas effectively makes us care about this trio even when we don’t want to.
Playwright Rajiv Joseph wrote a thought-provoking tale of ties that bind. Joseph illustrates how truth affects the characters. The flawed characters are believable and the dialogue is genuine and clever. He even uses lake effect snow as a powerful image to the overall story. Heart-warming.
THE LAKE EFFECT has surprising depth in meaning while skimming the surface of this trio’s lives. I didn’t want the story to end. I wanted to see what happened in the next scene. THE LAKE EFFECT not only captivated my interest, it made me want to call my dad.
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington
Written by Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm
Thru May 26th
Buy Tickets at www.silkroadrising.com