Chicago Theater Review: ANNAPURNA (Profiles)

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by Lawrence Bommer on June 23, 2014

in Theater-Chicago


In little more than an hour Sharr White pulls off a (one) act of forgiveness, reuniting estranged partners in a foul trailer in Paonia, Colorado. The unpromising setting, delivered in detail by set designer Katie-Bell Springmann, is a sty surrounded by dog shit where anything good has to fight against everything else. Pugilistically shaped by Eric Burgher, Profiles’ suitably sensational staging of Annapurna has its moments—but not quite enough to make this matter much.

Lia Mortensen and Darrell W. Cox in ANNAPURNA, Profiles Theatre in Chicago

Inhabiting (or infesting) this mobile cabin is Ulysses, a former cowboy-poet who’s becomes a hygienically-challenged recluse living on bad meat and dying from lung cancer. Emma, his ex-wife of two decades before, has left her husband to take care of this wheezing mountain man—give him a haircut, feed him real food, and prepare the dump for the arrival of their grown son Sam. Cryptic recriminations fly over past emotional baggage but, whether he was abusive before, this wreck called Ulysses is now “harmless,” broken down enough to accept her tough love. He even has a huge surprise in store (which will explain the title, a Himalayan mountain).

Lia Mortensen and Darrell W. Cox in ANNAPURNA, Profiles Theatre in Chicago.

The task of overcoming 20 years of hard feelings—abandonment issues, unshared affection, parenting conflicts—is no easy maturation and, despite its brevity, Sharr’s strategic scene pulls it off. It helps that Lia Mortensen, always an electrifying actress, delivers Emma’s anguish loudly and genuinely throughout. Darrell W. Cox plays Ulysses’ broken-down bravado for all the pathos it deserves. But his overly mannered performance is hobbled by a mumbling, mush-mouthed, slurring delivery that’s maddening as he literally swallows his lines. There must be a better way to indicate Ulysses’ respiratory distress.

Darrell W. Cox & Lia Mortensen in ANNAPURNA, Profiles Theatre in Chicago

photos by Michael Brosilow

Profiles Theatre
The Alley Stage, 4147 N. Broadway
scheduled to end on July 20, 2014
for tickets call 773-549-1815 or visit

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