Chicago Theater Review: DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD (Stage 773)

by Lawrence Bommer on October 9, 2013

in Theater-Chicago

FRIENDS DISCOVERING BENEFITS

Familiarity needn’t breed contempt. An old-fashioned “coming out” drama can reinvent the wheel with charm enough to distract from any cloying sense of déjà vu. A world premiere and winner of Pride Films and Plays’ “2013 Gay Play Contest” (beating out 75 scripts), Martin Casella’s Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead uses flashbacks to make the predictable inevitable: Two middle-aged friends discover a late-blooming love, gaining a necessary second chance to make up for lost time. David Zak treats the character drama with the TLC it requires.

Nicholas Stockwell and Patrick Gannon in Pride Films and Plays’ world premiere production of DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD by Martin Casella, directed by David Zak.

Its long title refers to an old broadside about emergency medical treatment that the two men stumble upon as they explore England’s Lake District. Of course, it’s also a metaphor for reclaiming the passion they denied each other. Jinx (Patrick Gannon) has invited his childhood buddy Griff (Patrick Rybarczyk), whom he hasn’t seen for 14 years, to stay with him in these environs that so inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge. But it’s not “intimations of immortality” that will finally bring them together.

Patrick Gannon, Patrick Rybarczyk and Nicholas Stockwell in Pride Films and Plays’  production of DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD by Martin Casella.

Quietly introspective and content with little more than he needs, Jinx is a risk-aversive gay editor of children’s fiction whose lover Richard (Nick Stowell) has recently—perhaps strategically–died. Nonetheless, Jinx describes himself as “jumpy,” perhaps from survivor guilt but also because something major is missing from his life. Extroverted and spontaneous where Jinx is not, Griff is a closeted bisexual (also a husband and father) who’s learned to “vanish” whenever crises threaten. He’s done so now by coming to England: Griff is losing Bea (Alanda Coon), his wife of 24 years, to leukemia. (This father’s gratitude to her and the Mormons who saved him from drugs has clouded his sensitivity to his conflicting sexual urges.) Curiously enough, before they die we see Bea and Richard both sense the unspoken love between these old chums, even if Griff remains in denial.

Patrick Gannon, Alanda Coon and Patrick Rybarczyk in Pride Films and Plays’ world premiere production of DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD by Martin Casella.

In 90 minutes we watch the men recall and reconsider the clues that should have revealed a friendship that ached to be much more. There was always a good reason why they were always there for each other. In this case, the truth really does set them free.

Patrick Gannon and Patrick Rybarczyk in Pride Films and Plays’ world premiere production of DIRECTIONS FOR RESTORING THE APPARENTLY DEAD by Martin Casella, directed by David Zak.

photos by Michael Brosilow

Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead
Pride Films and Plays
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
scheduled to end on November 10, 2013
for tickets, call (773) 327-5252 or visit http://www.Stage773.com/

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

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