Steep Theatre presents the Midwest Premiere of FALLOW.
Kenneth Lin’s Chicago debut is incredibly timely in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. A young boy is killed because of an assailant’s assumption. Would it make a difference if he was white? And why should it? In Lin’s story, the victim is white. And all the circumstances surrounding the murder are shaded in intrigue, injustice and discrimination.
FALLOW is about a jilted rich kid running away to find himself. Lin tells the tale through letters written by Aaron (played by Brendan Meyer) to his mother (played by Kendra Thulin). Meyer effectively transforms as his fascination with hard-working bees translates to hard-working field workers. Meyer’s physical metamorphism is obvious with a beard, long hair and even the illusion of leaner body mass. It’s Meyer’s soulful alteration that is more startling. Two of Lin’s scenes powerfully illustrate Meyer’s charming, carefree past and his haunted, enlightened existence. During the show the scenes, one at a frat house and the other at a Bass Pro Store, seem disjointed to the flow of the play. It’s only in reflecting on the play is the purpose for these well-acted, yet ultimately odd, scenes apparent. Under the purposeful direction of Keira Fromm, Meyer continues to evolve in his self identification.
The other two main characters are Thulin and Jose Antonio Garcia (Happy). Lin developed character complexity in his mother searching for answers to her son’s death. In the first act, Thulin garners empathy in her determination to meet the people who took advantage of her son. An unexpected twist at the end of Act I exposes Thulin’s true intent. She delivers a steely edge in wanting answers. Later in Act II, Thulin warps in a different direction. There is an unpleasant shrillness about her that detaches the audience from their original sympathy for her. The gregarious Garcia, on the other hand, engages throughout the show. His puppy dog earnestness wins us over instantly. Any suspicion of impropriety is flicked away by his sincerity. When Thulin moans about the injustice of a white kid’s murder, Garcia’s face and voice stiffen showcasing an entire culture’s oppression. His performance is riveting stuff.
FALLOW is a timely story of racial tensions. It gets a little preachy in Act II but the overall impact is undeniably truthful.
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
At Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn
Written by Kenneth Lin
Directed by Keira Fromm
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Thru August 17th
Buy Tickets at www.steeptheatre.com
Production photo by Lee Miller