Judging the quality of a play performance is simple, you just have to pay attention to the audience. At “Chasing the River,” the eyes of the audience watch the stage, wide open for the entirety of the play, except for the scenes when tears block their vision.
This playwright not only has been optioned for TV but was also a finalist of the ATHE Excellence in Playwriting Award.
It’s an emotional journey into the psychology of a domestically abused victim, with some quirky jokes along the way. The entrance to the theatre has a sign to caution those who are sensitive to topics of domestic violence.
It’s interesting to see how the memories of a person can haunt them their whole life. How you can reanalyze and understand new things once years have passed.
We are invited to see how four people’s’ reactions to the past affect their lives today.
The delusional mom, played by Robyne Parrish, who is so afraid to admit to anyone, mainly herself, that she was made a mistake. As she pleads with her daughter, her hands shake, face quivers and you can read the ‘I don’t know what else to say’ in her eyes.
David Ray, playing Sam, has moved on to build a new life, forgetting, or trying to forget, about high school and the problems around that time. Many of us can recognize the smile of Sam, when he remembers the days before all went wrong.
Beth, the hot-mouthed sister, played by Caroline Orlando, is a mystery who realized at one point that she ‘finally got tired of forgetting who she was.’
This brings us to an interesting point that many struggle to understand when it comes to domestic violence. Both Sam and the mother could not understand, why Kat, the main character played by Christina Elise Perry,
never said anything. It opens our eyes to see how manipulative abusers can be, and how victims often grow past their pain to not only pity the abuser, but actually love and protect them.
David Wenzel got so into his difficult role of the father, that the audience was nervous each time he would barge in or fall onto the stage.
It would be a sin to leave out Adelaide, played by Sara Thigpen. As she swings a cigarette in her hand and speaks the brutal truth with charm, she plays the role of hope, as the main support of the girls throughout the play and reminds us that “how the game starts is not your fault, but where you end up is all on you.”
Although this play is not a simple comedy perfect for a date night, it is definitely a creative, informative story. Women and men alike should see this plot not only as a form of entertainment but also as education on a major psychological trauma that many people suffer from.