“The Downpour”


***** Child abuse and bad parenting are things that make the headlines every day! In fact, hardly a week goes by without something on the news, in the papers or being discussed by friends. In “The Downpour” , now making its World Premiere at The Greenhouse Theatre, playwright Caitlin Parrish, takes us deep into the bowels of the lives of two sisters, Hazel (Caroline Neff) and her older sister,Robin (Brenda Barrie). As we meet each of them in the opening, we learn that they have had a somewhat different type of relationship since their childhood. Robin is married, living in Chicago and Hazel, who writes children’s books is a loner. As the story unfolds, we learn of some of their childhood problems, but it is not until much later, when Robin announces that her and her husband, Fred( deftly handled by Peter Moore) are going to have a child, that the inner fears come out, allowing us to see how protective Robin was over her little sister.

Jeff’s best friend, Miller (another fine performance by Stef Tovar),a Chicago cop is always around and as the past opens up takes on a different role; a sort of protector to the baby that he will be a part of the life of. The four characters lives and personalities intertwine with much emotion as the sisters experience some of the memories that they had hoped were now blocked out. Anyone who knows anyone who has suffered abuse knows that the inner memories never are gone, and in Parrish’s two act play, we learn just how important it is to seek the help that one needs to carry on with life.

In this smoothly directed production (Route 66 Company continues to reach new heights) by Erica Weiss, we get a deep glimpse into the issues that have been part of the lives of these two women. Both Barrie and Neff give outstanding performances with Neff being the stronger character. There is fear, resentment and mistrust between the two women. Will history repeat itself? Will Robin be able to have a child without becoming her mother?For those of you who recall the smash “A Twist of Water” that Route 66 presented, also written by Parrish, you will see her depth of character study implemented in this one as well. We feel that these are real people, in real situations. In fact, people we know!It is a story about two sisters who are afraid of their past becoming their present, but through love are able to find each other again.

The set (Brian Sidney Bembridge, who also did the lighting) is sensational. The house is so real the people next to me said they would love to move in after the production. Nice work! costumes (Alaric Hammock) and props (Desiree Arnold) add to the overall production, but it is in fact the script and the four talented actors who make this tense, yet loving story take us to a better understanding of how this behavior can affect the life of the child who has experienced it. There are some funny moments to balance out the serious issues of the story and there is love, lots of love as we see these characters come to resolve their situation.
“The Downpour” will continue at The Greenhouse Theatre Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through October 12th with performances as follows:

Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $35 ($20 for students) and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-404-7336 or online at www.greenhousetheatre.org
To see what others are saying, visitwww.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Downpour”