Entertainment » Theatre

No More Sad Things

by Colleen Cottet
Monday Nov 23, 2015
George Infantado, Narciso Lobo and Katy Carolina Collin
George Infantado, Narciso Lobo and Katy Carolina Collin  

Sideshow Theatre Company opens its 2015-16 season with the co-world premiere of playwright Hansol Jung's "No More Sad Things," in conjunction with Boise Contemporary Theater. With warmth, sly humor, and a capable cast, Sideshow's latest offering is a wonderful way to open what promises to be another fascinating Sideshow season.

The play opens as we meet Jessiee (Sideshow artistic associate Katy Carolina Collins), a frazzled woman taking a last-minute flight to Hawaii. She finds herself in Maui, stumbling across a handsome young man named Kahekili (George Infantado). Their connection is instantaneous and visceral, and they end up making love on the beach only a few hours after meeting.

Things become complicated as the characters' ages are revealed (Jessiee is 32; Kahekili is... not). Despite the significance of their age difference, they continue their affair. Kahekili, with his limited life experience, quickly becomes enveloped by his passion for Jessiee, envisioning a romantic continuation of their relationship, away from the staleness of his life thus far.

But Jessiee is not a young girl, and as their affair continues, the reasons behind her spontaneous Hawaiian vacation reveal themselves. It turns out that Jessiee left a sick mother behind on the mainland, not to mention the financial ruin that her long-running illness has left in its wake.

And Jessiee has a history of romantic disappointment, including an ill-timed pregnancy as a teenager, experiencing love for the first time much as Kahekili is now. We see how Jessiee became emotionally stunted by this affair, precipitating her attraction to the youthful Kahekili in present day.

Throughout the story, a Guidebook (Narciso Lobo) serves as a singing and ukulele-playing chorus for the action at hand, offering narration and commentary as well as slipping into the role of Jessiee's teenage love, who, like Kahekili, was idealistically in love with Jessiee and the possibility of their future together.

Eventually, the ramifications of both Jessiee's distant past and her present cannot be ignored, and Jessiee find herself struggling with the realities of her situation. Can she live with the fallout of her affairs? Can she return home to care for her mother, and rise above her financial struggle? Or can she make a more drastic choice, and opt to remain, in some way, embraced by idyllic Hawaiian paradise forever?

"No More Sad Things" is a lovely piece of theater, with director Elly Green's production deftly balancing wry humor with poignancy and heart. Jung's writing combines believable dialogue and characters with fanciful devices, including original songs performed by Lobo. Design elements are first-rate, in particular designer William Boles' fluid and imaginative set.

Collins is at turns hilarious and heartbreaking as the troubled Jessiee, and Infantado is charming and sincere as Kahekili. But it is Lobo who manages to steal the show. He serves to pull the audience into the heart of the story with his commentary, set the tone with his music, and float between narrator and character without artifice.

"No More Sad Things" runs through Dec. 20 at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago. For information or tickets, call 773-871-3000 or visit www.victorygardens.org

Colleen Cottet is a freelance writer and playwright, having written for such diverse publications as American Teen, Veterinary Technician, and the Journal of Ordinary Thought. Her work has been performed at the Chicago Park District and About Women. She resides in Chicago.


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