NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
The Cleanup washes away a few stereotypes
Mon. November 7, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
Prop Thtr presents The Cleanup at the Athenaeum Center for Thought & Culture, 2936 N Southport Avenue, from now until November 19, 2022. The story surrounds a preschool called TLC or The Learning Co-op and the parents who have children attending the school.
Lucy Carapetyan plays Nicole who meets Logan who is portrayed by Chad Patterson. Their unexpected relationship becomes complicated quickly and progresses into unknown territory. Lynnette Li (Julie) and Brandon Rivera (Ryan) are both part of this friendship circle that orbits around this learning center of kids.
The playwright and producer for The Cleanup, Hallie Palladino attended the night of this review with a mixer beforehand and a post-show panel discussion event titled Queer Dads' Night Out. This project was loosely based on Palladino's longtime friendship with her gay friend who has children.
The play Palladino wrote is well constructed with themes that many audience members can relate to such as COVID challenges and relationship issues. It will be interesting to see how theater with dated material such as this age in the future.
The inclusion of a gay father in the mix is refreshing but limited to a minor role although Rivera has a few shining moments along the way. The performers are strong but some of the direction falls short. Patterson needs more subtle clues that he's problematic and Carapetyan is simply too smart to fall for him. Li is a standout though as her character revs up toward the end of the second act. There's a depth and range to Julie that Li nails thanks to some hard work. Seeing a virtual fundraiser played out onstage was worth the wait!
The Cleanup is a smart endeavor by Prop Thtr to explore and produce that will leave patrons with much to discuss after viewing it. That is why unique programming around certain performances is a very smart move for the troupe.
Take a trip to TLC by purchasing tickets at propthtr.org and watch the dirty laundry unfold!