OFFBEAT: Pine Pox Theater '25 Saints' offers glimpse into meth messed up lives

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-23T00:00:00Z 2014-02-20T17:04:12Z OFFBEAT: Pine Pox Theater '25 Saints' offers glimpse into meth messed up livesPhilip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Understanding a mind hooked on meth is complicated and confusing.

Metamfetamine, which is the official pharmaceutical tag, is made with a mixture of ingredients that make my head spin, just thinking that people are willing to ingest such a combination for an addicted high.

Everything from ammonia and over-the-counter cold remedy to the chemicals used in freezer cold packs and liquid fertilizer used by farmers, are used for the "cooking formula."

A new play by Pine Box Theater Company in Chicago continues the 2012-13 stage season with the world premiere drama "25 Saints" by ensemble member Joshua Rollins, author of Pine Box's previous hit "A Girl With Sun In Her Eyes," directed by ensemble member Susan E. Bowen.

This new 75-minute, no intermission story is all about meth and how lives unravel from this addiction.

It plays until March 31 at the Greenhouse Theater Center's Upstairs Studio space, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago and features a small, intimate cast with Pine Box ensemble member Josh Odor, with Danny Goldring, Drew Johnson, Ashley Neal, Caroline Neff, Molly Reynolds and John Ross Wilson.

Johnson plays Charlie Roedel, who returns to Appalachia to clean up a mess his brother left behind, with includes a meth lab run out of the family mountain home. While working off a debt he didn't create, he becomes emotionally attached to Neff's character Sammy, who had dated his now MIA brother. Add to all of this mix his paranoid back woods buddy Tuck, played by Odor and a corrupt town sheriff, and it's a lethal combination ready to explode.

John Ross Wilson has created a vivid and bleak scenic design to capture the desperate world of a group of hapless, haunted lives.

How do you design the wardrobe for meth addicts?

Delia Baseman and her costume design nails it to the last thread.

While the acting is solid, especially from Odor, Johnson and Neff, this story seems too bizarre to be believed or care about. It's like a cable movie on the Lifetime Network gone very wrong.

While Danny Goldring isn't quite so convincing as the town's bad-to-the-bone sheriff, actress Molly Reynolds is perfection as Ms. Duffy, the sheriff's moll. (I'd love to just watch her in every scene with her talented way of tackling her role with humor and a certain creepy, nasty quality to make the skin crawl.)

Even the eventual explanation of while the play is titled as it is, based a scene in the story, didn't connect for me as it should. I'll blame it on my very clear frame of mind at the time.

Tickets for "25 Saints" are $25 at or call (773) 404-7336.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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