For any person who has ever fell hard with a crush on a favorite friend, director David Zak's latest production "Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead" for Pride Films and Plays in Chicago is an instant audience connection.
Isn't this an experience every person has had during the lessons of life? From elementary school to workplace, would-be romance, an innocent scenario of crush infatuation, isn't so very uncommon.
Pride Films and Plays is launching the 2013-14 Season with the world premiere of Martin Casella's drama "Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead," directed with finesse by Zak and running until Nov. 10 at Stage 773's thrust stage, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.
This play was winner of Pride Film and Play's 2013 Great Gay Play Contest and features PFP Ensemble Members Patrick Rybarczyk and Nicholas Stockwell with Alanda Coon and Patrick Gannon.
The story is about long-time buddies who take a vacation in England's Lake Country after life-changing events. As the play is billed: "Past and present overlap and intersect; they examine the origins of their relationship and the limits of it, with the play exploring marriages and relationships, gender and sexuality, and the time-tested bonds of friendship."
Remember, Pride Films and Plays' production of "Under a Rainbow Flag," a finalist in last year's Great Gay Play Contest, won 2013 Non-Equity Jeff Awards for Best New Work and Best Musical Production.
So yes, that production is a hard act to follow. "Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead" holds its own and offers a degree of charm mixed with suspense, all blended with emotion and passion.
Gannon is in fine form as a friend who abides by boundaries but still longs to be noticed and understood. Rybarczyk is nicely cast and believable as a husband with much on his mind, including a wife and children who are the driving force of his life's mission, despite moments of uncertainty. Stockwell plays a secondary character, and knowing his acting ability, he could use more to do. This is the same case for Coon, whose wife role and backstory are never fully explained to the extent where audiences can care more about what's unfolding for the future. The play is one hour and 45 minutes without an intermission. The film does have a few moments when Rybarczyk's character seems too prone to falling prey to every plot of a hubby in a Lifetime cable movie. But all in all, this play and the outcome leave audiences satisfied and on-board for more. And yes, this play's rather long, and the abstract title is cleverly revealed and symbolically explained during the course of the unfolding scenes.
The production team for "Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead," includes Ashley Ann Woods with wonderful, warm and inviting very real scenic design, Emma Weber for costume design and ensemble member Raphael Schwartzman with spot-on lighting design, along with Liz Picurro as stage manager.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets are $25 and $30 with students and seniors allowed $5 off all performances. FYI: stage773.com, in person ticket purchase at the Stage 773 Box Office or (773) 327-5252 or visit pridefilmsandplays.com.