Actress Joanne Dubach, who hails from Chesterton, plays a key role in one of the most important plays I've seen this season.
Dubach turns in a fine performance as Lydia, a young daughter who must come to terms with her mother's struggle with the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the Lookingglass Theatre production of "Still Alice," running through May 19.
Continuing its 25th anniversary season, Lookingglass Theatre Company presents this world premiere, adapted and directed by ensemble member Christine Mary Dunford, based on the novel by Lisa Genova.
Showcased in the intimate setting located inside Chicago's historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson, the hour and 45-minute story is brilliantly presented by this cast of seven.
Based in Chicago, Professor Alice Howland is at the peak of her career studying the human brain when her own mind begins to falter. Fiercely independent, she battles to preserve her way of life, even as confusion clouds her thinking and her memory begins to fail. Heart-warming humor is contrasted by moments that are frightening and touch off an array of uncertain thoughts by an audience kept on the edge of their seats.
The play gives those watching a rare opportunity to get "inside the head" of someone experiencing Alzheimer's disease, while also securing a better understanding of the family experiencing the challenges of their loved one.
Lookingglass ensemble member Eva Barr delivers a riveting portrayal of the title, capturing her complicated character's qualities. She's opposite Mariann Mayberry, last seen as the lead in Steppenwolf's "Good People," in a stellar performance playing a seamless personification of Alice's tug-of-war inner mind.
Ensemble member Tracy Walsh stars as Doctor Tamara and the always solid Cliff Chamberlain plays the devoted son Thomas opposite Dubach as his sister makes this family story ring with even more resonance. Christopher Donahue does a great job as the lead's fellow professor husband, who must balance his father and husband roles with his professional obligations.
I'm told Dunford's adaptation of the novel "Still Alice" was inspired, in part, by her longtime work with The Memory Ensemble, which she co-founded with The Northwestern Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center (CNADC).
The creative team for "Still Alice" includes ensemble member John Musial with a stark and very effective scenic design. Artistic Associate Alison Siple captures the costuming and Mike Durst hits all of the marks with lighting coupled with artistic associate Rick Sims' sound/composition and Mike Tutaj's Projections.
Tickets are $36 to $70 with a limited number of student tickets available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID. FYI: lookingglasstheatre.org or (312) 337-0665. Discounted parking is available for Lookingglass patrons at both the nearby John Hancock Center and Olympia Centre Self Park (161 E. Chicago Ave.) for $10.