How A Boy Falls: A Controlling Thriller of a Mystery

tim-decker-michelle-duffyThere has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between the mother and their son. This anonymous quote speaks to the nurturing love that a mother provides in the early stages of her son’s development, correlating to the love he will eventually exhibit to others. This love that she has for her son is the driving force to why so many mothers have endured unspeakable hardships to ensure that their children are safe. 

With a man feeling dominance over a woman with an intoxicating power to control their every moment, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these women are afraid to leave with statistics that stated women are 500 times more at risk after leaving home. However, when their safety is endangered, abusive, or mental harm is placed aginst their freedom, they will do just about anything to free themselves for those that claim to love them.

Northlight Theatre brings to the stage the World Premiere of ‘How A Boy Falls.’ A compelling and persuasive story about a woman’s desire to liberate herself from the loving arms of her controlling husband.  

Thrust into a home where the landscape displays a captivating scenery, Chelle, the new au pair, is hired by a wealthy businessman named Paul to care for his son. Surprised that his wife wasn’t there to interview her, and somewhat disturbed by Paul’s cavalier interview skills, Chelle accepts the job, where she finally meets Miranda; Paul’s wife.   

parris-slaughter-mason-knightMiranda, who had no idea they were hiring a nanny, questions Chelle’s motive for wanting a babysitting job at her age and then, in a dignifying nature, politely informs Chelle, they have no need for a nanny. After guilting Miranda to allow her to stay on a trial basis, Chelle finds herself being blamed for the disappearance of Paul and Miranda’s young son. Suddenly, things began to unravel when Paul, Miranda, and Chelle are dangerously scheming conspiracies of their own. As each plot thickens, this psychological thriller will have you wondering who really knows who and what really happened at this wealthy house.  

Under the direction of Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J Evans, Northlight starts its 2019-2020 season off with Steven Dietz’s How A Boy Falls. The set design of Lizzie Bracken has a very bland and unimaginative blueish color. It also featured an abbreviate balcony, upper room tower that forced its audience to lookup during pivotal parts of the play, which can be an issue for the seniors that overwhelmingly attend most theatrical events.       

Dietz, an American playwright and theatre director, known for his calculating and multiple layered storylines, has produced several thrillers like Private Eye, Dracula, “The Great Beyond” and “The Ghost of Splinter Cove. He received the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award for his off-Broadway drama Fiction and his widely produced fable for young audiences Still Life with Iris. Dietz’s desire for the audience in How A Boy Falls is that he wants them to form a camaraderie with the actors to help put the pieces together to solve the mystery. 

Directed by Halena Kays, How A Boy Falls lackluster start eventually picks up the pace to become an interesting mystery thriller. The dimly-lit stage could have more illumination during the lethargic start. Nevertheless, How A Boy Falls premise is still a percolating thriller.     

sean-parris-cassidy-slaughter-masonChelle, played by Cassidy Slaughter-Mason, the new au pair, is somewhat aloof and mysterious as she seeks to scheme the wealthy homeowners. Cassidy, who is a co-creator of the OTV web series The Exquisite Corpse, has been seen at Eclipse Theater, Theatre Wit/About Face Theatre, and is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf. In her role as Chelle, she doesn’t necessarily have any standout scenes that make her memorable, but this play isn’t set up to have memorable lines. Tim Decker, who’s had roles in Starz Boss, Chicago JusticeEmpire, and Chicago Fire, is no stranger to Northlight. He performed in 2016, City of Conversation. Decker, acting savvy as the conniving and controlling husband Paul, is convincing and brings an arousing curiosity to the plot of How A Boy Falls.

Then we have the glamorous and multiple talented Michelle Duffy. Duffy’s extensive career reads like a who’s who. Primarily as a legitimate stage actress and vocalist, she provides elegance to Miranda, who is also intelligent and a woman that is clever and cunning. Her TV credits include Succession, The Night of, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, and Elementary.  Duffy’s character, as Miranda, shows the strength and intellect of a woman seeking to leave a controlling and abusive husband. Duffy’s preeminence is her ability to provide the audience with a sense of the play through her demure facial expression without saying a word.  

Sean Parris and Travis A Knight were stellar in there by chance meeting as Sam and Mitch. Parris, the dumped, lonely, and lovestruck caterer who deceives Chelle to believing he is someone else to continuously see her, is awkwardly humorous.  Knight, plays Mitch, Sam’s new crimes and misdemeanors partner who also plays several mysterious roles. He is a security guard and seems to have an association with Paul and Miranda.      

The allure of Dietz’s How A Boy Falls is the all of the characters are disingenuous, and you are never sure who’s doing what or where the real guilt lies. How A Boy Falls is a thriller worth investigating.

Let’s Play recommends, How A Boy Falls at Northlight Theater.

Northlight Theater World Premier of How A Boy Falls

By Steven Dietz

Directed by Halena Kays

January 23 – February 29, 2020


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