Capturing the tortured angst involved in the process of creation is difficult to achieve honestly and empathetically. The inherently selfish act of indulging in creativity and desiring a tangible legacy is viewed with suspicion at best by nonartists, and reviled at worst. Engrossing and meticulously plotted, the Goodman’s production of How to Catch Creation is lightning caught in a bottle, an absolute triumph for director Niegel Smith and his exquisite ensemble.
Written by Christina Anderson, this joyful and visceral work is alive in a way that very few stage plays achieve. It tells the story of a writer, a few painters, and their struggles to create and establish their legacy. Set against a toe-tapping soundtrack by composer Justin Ellington that vacillates between bouncy 90’s pop and easy, smoldering jazz, the delightfully inventive set conceived by Todd Rosenthal provides the cast with a glorious playground. Smartly written and staged dual scenes that merge past and present, creator and consumer, poignantly amplify the blessing and curse of being struck with inspiration.
The all-black cast of six portrays a group of artists who navigate the complexities of enduring friendship and love over several decades. Karen Aldridge is a stunner in a layered role as the strong friend who helps everyone but herself; Keith Randolph Smith is tenderly lovable as a mature man with a new lease on life; and Jasmine Bracey is deliciously contradictory as a genius writer—a role usually reserved for men. When you don’t give creativity or love the proper attention, it begins to fade. The passion in this production was indelibly dyed into my memory after witnessing it. v