Waving Goodbye, Naked Eye Theatre Company, at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Jamie Pachino’s new work (developed with the assistance of a grant by the prestigious Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays) is a beautifully written portrait of loss, rage, change, and the terror–and joy–of trusting another person in the wake of personal cataclysm. The story moves back and forth in time as teenager Lily Blue (Liesel Matthews) grieves the death of her beloved mountain-climbing father (Brian Shaw) in a fall. Her long absent artist mother (Julia Neary) has reentered her life, reigniting a mutual smoldering resentment. Lily, a budding photographer, is also exploring her own artistic bent and dealing with the sweet if eccentric attentions of a riddle-loving young man (James McKay) and the professional and personal encouragement of a waspish but warmhearted gallery owner (a terrific Alexandra Billings).
Pachino writes from the gut and heart in a way that’s utterly refreshing. But director Jeremy B. Cohen doesn’t fully realize the strengths of the script: especially in the unconvincing early scenes between Lily’s parents, his actors have a pronounced tendency to talk past one another–and at high volumes. Fortunately the design elements (particularly Richard and Jacqueline Penrod’s jungle gym set for the Blues’ loft and Jaymi Lee Smith’s gorgeous lighting) support Pachino’s ideas. This is a flawed presentation of an intriguing work that, like its troubled teen protagonist, deserves to be heard.