The psychological depths of brotherly love are examined in the Midwest premier of Neil LaBute's In A Dark Dark House
now playing at the cutting edge Profiles Theatre. This is the final show in a season celebrating the works of this complex playwright. As is typical with LaBute's plays, one must always look past the dialogue spoken to get the true plot intricacies of the play. Though not as well faceted as Fat Pig, there are many layers to the two brothers, Drew and Terry though the sub plot becomes much more predicable with Joe Jahruaus' direction.
The drama begins as Drew, a wealthy, substance abusing, disbarred attorney is in rehab where his estranged brother Terry pays him a visit at Drew's request. As the scene unwinds, Drew's on again and off again recollection of sexual abuse he encountered by a "friend" of his brother comes to fruition. As the relationship of the brothers is examined, there is a constant back and forth of the younger brother-older brother dynamic of how each of them ended up in the position they are in. As the abuse aspect is exposed, and the revenge motive is brought to the forefront, the play takes off to a predicable but satisfying conclusion.
As Drew, Hans Fleischmann brings a soap opera quality manipulator to his conniving character. There is almost a J.R. Ewing like aspect to Fleischmann's psyche that makes him totally believable and as sinful as he can be, you grow to love to hate him. Darrell W. Cox on the other hand has a tougher time finding the soul of Terry. This could be an issue with the direction but there are certain scenes and dialogue that fall short of the emotional torment that Terry is enduring and Cox too often settles for screaming rather than letting the playwright's dialogue set the tone of the outrage and inner turmoil he is enduring with his own sexuality.
Allison Torem, who is making her professional debut, has a standout performance as Jennifer, the daughter Drew's alleged abuser. As a young performer, Torem strikes the right notes between an innocent girl and a sexual provocative teen.
As the play draws to a close, there is very little as far as resolution with the relationships, which again is a hallmark of LaBute's writing. In A Dark Dark House
makes you keep pondering this work long after the show has ended. There is a lot going on in this play and it is what is not uttered by the actors is the true force of this well crafted production.
In A Dark Dark House
plays through May 11, 2008 at Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway St., Chicago, Illinois. For showtimes and ticket information please visit www.profilestheatre.org
or call the box office at (773) 549-1815.
Pictured: Associate Artistic Director Darrell W. Cox (wearing bandana) and Hans Fleischmann
Photo credit: Thad Hallstein