Hoping for a Better Future in a Cramped Motel Room
Life, in general, has a way of making you examine the path that you have chosen; especially after a death of a loved one. However, during this awkward and uncomfortable time, some may decide to revisit their past so that they can forge on to a better future. Although sometimes we all may feel that our loved ones may have failed us, we are brought together by their death to support and forgive one another or even them.
Northlight Theatre’s ‘Curve of Departure’ is a delicate family play written by Playwright Rachel Bonds, which is set in a tiny hotel room in New Mexico. The family has gathered to attend a funeral of a man that they loved but didn’t like. Full with sadness, anger, and confusion as to why they are attending this funeral, each character has resentment towards someone that they feel hasn’t loved them as they desired.
Bonds special talent of transforming her characters’ dialogue with such preciseness seems all too real, where the vital human desire of passion and pain rules the heart of this play. In this quaint room, we will see self-sacrifice, respect for elders, the honoring of a choice and the responsibility to do what is right, no matter the cause.
In the opening scene of this 80-minute play, an old man by the name of Rudy (Mike Nussbaum) is watching meaningless tabloid TV in a hotel room, waiting to attend the funeral of his son Cyrus who he loathes dearly.
Rudy shares the room with his ex-daughter-in-law Linda (Penelope Walker) who Cyrus had abandoned. In this scene, you will see the genuine relationship between the two of them that they share. Linda, who is waiting for her son to arrive, lovingly cares for Rudy who has dementia. Linda’s son Felix (Sean Parris) will be sharing the room with her, Rudy and his boyfriend Jackson (Danny Martinez) and as the night endure; they all open up about how they feel about those that have departed from their lives.
Linda who brings the love together within the group is very convincing in her role as a concerned mother who is not sure of her son’s choice in a partner; especially if something doesn’t seem right between Felix and Jackson.
Rudy the aged and brash New York Jew who is hilariously funny throughout the play talks enthusiastically to the young men, who lives in Los Angeles about “New York being like a beautiful and damaged woman.” Nussbaum is impressive in this heartbreaking scene as Rudy rushes to the bathroom and barks about trying to die with dignity.
Sean Parris as Felix and Danny Martinez as Jackson rounded out the cast. Their role as partners seeking approval from their families and seeking to care for Jackson’s niece is a red flag hanging over their heads.
Mike Nussbaum, is his usual excellent self, and he brings his usual blend of joy, pain, and humor to the part of Rudy, however, we felt that Penelope Walker role as Linda brought the entire play together. She was great as the mother, worried about her son and his life choices while dealing with the on-going different emotional changes Rudy experienced. Paring Walker with Nussbaum works well, and these two talented and skillful actors show the love needed to make you believe that they genuinely care for each other.
Director BJ Jones who meticulously craft every scene to the craziness of each characters life, perfectly revealing the subtleties of an emotional build-up where reliving the past can help or hinder great steps towards their future. Jones, a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award Winning actor, and a three-time nominated director has directed a plethora of top-notch plays and his work in Curve of Departure, may not get the same accolades as some of his notable plays; but this play will definitely be high on the list.
Rachel Bonds sensitivity and love bring the audience into the emotions of the play and characters which can be seen in ‘Curve of Departure.’ Her willingness to challenge some of society’s sensitive subjects such as individual choices of life, death, mental illness, abuse, loneliness and sexual preference within this play is uplifting and inspiring.
The casting of this play is like a colorful palette of a “ragtag little group of humans.” Rudy is white; Linda, who ended up divorced from Rudy’s son, is black; Felix is black, and the heavily tattooed Jackson is Latino and from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks.
This combination of the dysfunctional family works to perfection for Bonds by bringing them all together to learn from their experiences with Cyrus to what they value most.
Let’s Play ‘Highly Recommend’ that you see this play at Northlight Theatre in Skokie IL.
The cast includes:
Mike Nussbaum (Rudy)
Sean Parris (Felix)
Danny Martinez (Jackson)
Penelope Walker (Linda)
Northlight Theatre opens its 44th season with
Curve of Departure
Written by Rachel Bonds
Directed by BJ Jones
Featuring Mike Nussbaum, Sean Parris
Danny Martinez and Penelope Walker
September 13 – October 21, 2018
Filed under: ChicagoNow