Phillip Lewis is a freelancing director and playwright native to Chicago. He has worked with companies such as Silent Theatre Company, Pegasus Players, Oracle Theater, and Prop Thtr along with a number of Deaf theater companies. He primarily focuses on the aesthetics of storytelling involving the representation of intersectionality and accessibility for all. He hopes to soon be a part-time American Sign Language Interpreter and a full-time impactful director.
Pictured (l-r): Nora Hunt, Arif Yampolsky, Norma Chacon, Murphy Mayer. Photo by Tori Howard.
By Phillip Lewis
The topic of voyeurism and private spaces is a hugely fascinating concept to delve into with the inevitable development of technology. With the slow fade and decline of human interaction, CAM BABY aggressively drags you into the room of broken people in desperation of contact. The chaos that ensues fuels the stakes and intrigue that forms into a haunting and shamefully satisfying plot.
In the Chimera Ensemble production, however, the script’s’ most consequential moments fall unaffected by the lack of immediacy in each scene. Characters express dire circumstances with a passive energy, leaving an escalated scene feeling like an unstressed Seinfeld joke.
This is not to say there are no compelling moments to pocket from this performance. Arif Yampolsky takes a mild-mannered and soft-spoken Tim and builds a time bomb waiting to go off which, in turn, provides a much needed catharsis overall. Nora Hunt also brings compelling humor and tragedy as Clara when some of her vulnerable moments are made into ammunition. The two navigate the awkward nature of the characters acrobatically together in a way that feels more natural than the rest of the world of the play. It is uncertain if the goal is to make Clara and Tim more human, as they are exhibited against a more flat society of individuals, but there’s opportunity for that to be taken much further.
CAM BABY focuses on lookism, private versus public spaces, and vulnerability — timely topics to be sure. . It puts audiences in front of each other in a voyeuristic space and makes attempts to solve a long-term issue in 90 minutes. Though the concept succeeds overall, it comes at the expense of pacing, depth and gravitas.
CAM BABY runs through March 4th. For more information visit chimeraensemble.com.