Credit: courtesy Redtwist Theatre

The family of Archer (Jaq Seifert) still calls him Angela and considers him
a daughter rather than a son when he moves back home to help care for his
ailing Pops (Brian Parry). Mom (Jacqueline Grandt) is mostly focused on
keeping the family’s life as it has always been, ignoring the seismic
changes happening right under her nose, while Grandma (Kathleen Ruhl) just
wants “Angela” to get married so “she” won’t end up alone.

MJ Kaufman’s play—receiving its Chicago premiere at Redtwist Theatre under
James Fleming’s direction—is note-perfect in showing how often people talk
past each other, speaking only of their own desires and hearing only what
they want to hear without ever truly listening. Even when Archer meets a
stranger in the woods (Christopher Acevedo) and begins a covert affair,
neither lover can see the other for much more than what they need them to
be. Pops dies but remains as central in each of the family members’ lives
as he ever was. His ghost forces each of them to confront themselves in
crucial ways that will allow them to go on.

While the central metaphor of trees standing in for people is a bit on the
nose, Kristen Martino’s set and Daniel Friedman’s lighting design evoke a
liminal space where the future and past as well as the living and the dead
can mingle freely. The implication that we must enter a dreamlike twilight
time in order to truly see one another is a wise insight, but also achingly
sad.   v