TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING, Saint Sebastian Players, at Saint Bonaventure Church. There’s something sweet and appealing about this new play, in which two brothers–one a slick Chicago lawyer, the other an unpolished dirt farmer–are reunited when their mother dies.
It isn’t the story. Chicago playwright Jonathan Hagloch lets his plot wander and amble too long before settling down late in the second act to the play’s most compelling dramatic issue: should the brothers keep or sell the family farm? It isn’t the dialogue. Hagloch’s characters routinely blurt out long speeches about their feelings and issues, elements of a play best left buried in the subtext. And God knows it isn’t the acting. In the mid-90s the Saint Sebastian Players transformed themselves from a community-theater group to a non-Equity one, but the company’s performances retain a stiff, underrehearsed quality.
No, this play is appealing because Hagloch–who also codirects and stars–knows how to create well-rounded characters. There isn’t a cliched one in the bunch. Even the workaholic lawyer brother feels like a real person, not a stock antagonist. And the play’s protagonist, the nice guy who sacrificed his youth to keep the family farm going and stay home with mama, seems as real as my next-door neighbor. Hagloch desperately needs to learn how to edit and shape his work, yet his play still touches the heart. –Jack Helbig