4 Stars out of 4
Ross Compton’s new play Amicable, now getting its world premiere at the tiny Theatre Above the Law in a cute little enclave in Rogers Park, is remarkable. It is an astonishing cautionary tale, a zen meditation and a profound experience about human existence. In this Twilight Zone/Black Mirror era it’s also an excellent piece of science fiction.
We the audience are crammed into the intimate storefront across from a set that looks like the inside of a Metra Train. Pete,(played by Ian Gonzales Meuntener) a sloppy man baby sits down and spews wrappers, snacks and trash from his backpack and settles in to watch his phone. Soon Joey (played by TATL regular David Hartley), enters and it’s clear these two have a history and they want different things from each other. Joey wants to keep the interaction brief, Pete needs Joey is some deep way. Joey’s long ago girlfriend and then most recent girlfriend and then a girlfriend’s sister and then a child get on the train too. There are tearjerker moments and some very big laughs. The show is full of surprises. Everyone has a connection to at least one other person: this is not a random group. Human relations start getting difficult. Director Tony Lawry keeps the pace taut and knits this prickly group of not strangers into an ensemble of quiet power and moving storytelling.
It would entirely ruin the one act with no intermission experience to tell you the plot, because the audience begins to understand the situation only a few beats before the performers which is excellent fun. Lets just say they mess with the space time continuum and there are enough Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references to keep all the nerds in your circle ecstatic. The music selections by the playwright are uncannily good. The show includes a paean to teachers. The conclusion of the show is satisfying if not entirely happy. You need to see this show: there are good life lessons here.
Amicable is playing weekends through June 2, 2019. For tickets and information go to https://www.theatreatl.org/ or call 1 773 655 7197