The House Theatre of Chicago presents
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Hours after I saw ODRADEK, a friend asked me, “How was House?” My quick response, “The set is magnificent. The show is about… 83 minutes.” Those two things I’m certain of. The rest …I just don’t know. The House Theatre of Chicago presents ODRADEK. Franz Kafka wrote a short story that featured a thread- yarn, remnant type of monster. Through the years, readers interpreted the Kafka creation as symbolizing capitalism, religion or even Kafka himself. Playwright Brett Neveu houses the Kafka beast into contemporary times. Neveu’s tale starts with a boy walloping a guy in bed. In the next scene, it’s determined that the beaten-up guy is the dad. The disturbed boy is under doctor’s care and on medication. As the father and doctor start a relationship, the boy bonds with Odradek, a newbie entity underneath the staircase. The dust-bunnies-gone-wild being feeds off the boy and grows bigger. The boy begins to have a strong physical reaction to his friendly scrap heap. But here’s where all the loose threads unravel for me. What is really happening? Is the entire story happening in the boy’s head? Is the dad and doc even dating? Is the kid mutilating himself? What purpose does the fabric organism even serve? Is the kid becoming it? Or is it always been the kid? I just don’t get this dark yarn!
Here’s what I did get, Scenic designer Collette Pollard created a show piece, majestic grand staircase. Theatre seats have been limited to make space for the oversize, flight of steps. It’s gasp-worthy. Even though I don’t understand ODRADEK, I do know why it chose THIS staircase as a nesting place.
My lifeline for any intellectual contest, James describes it with, “what the huh?”