Kelsey is a Chicago based producer, actor, writer, critic, and mixologist. An alum of Black Box Acting’s ACADEMY Program, Kelsey curates “The Newness,” a monthly salon of new work. They also work closely with Trans Voices Cabaret Chicago as well as Chicago Theatre Access Auditions. Follow them on Insta! @playsandpours, @kelseylooks
(left to right) Matthew Nerber, Josh Zagoren, and Sarah Gise. Photo by Emily Schwartz
By Kelsey McGrath
In a tangle of storylines and perspectives, Interrobang Theatre Project’s FOR THE LOYAL tackles the question “What is Truth?” Part of Interrobang’s Raw Series — which aims to bring concise, actor-driven theatre to the Chicago stage — Lee Blessing’s play is summarized as “An unconventional and provocative look at how one woman traverses a no-win situation.”
We follow Mia (Sarah Gise) as a sex scandal threatens to tear her new family apart. FOR THE LOYAL cycles through the possibilities of Mia’s solution to the scandal. Each iteration of the circumstances presents a different perspective or consequence among her, her husband, the two coaches involved, and the victim. FOR THE LOYAL feels like more of an investigation rather than a story. An interrogation that takes place in purgatory and further dismantles the “capital T” Truth.
Due to the cyclical nature of the show, it feels as if Mia has no agency or history of her own. The personal stakes of her relationships are incongruent with the play’s urgency.
In her navigation, Mia is met with an unwavering sense of loyalty from her husband and the two coaches to their school. She questions this blind devotion. Ultimately, she is combatting more than these individuals, she is combatting a mindset.
This is where we’re positioned today in so many ways. Blind, bullheaded loyalty is so often unwaveringly rewarded. Excuses are made to protect the guilty, to maintain a status and facade.The play navigates a situation where the rules are broken and they’re played to the perpetrator’s advantage.
In this messy effort to find truth, it feels like the audience has to constantly catch up with what’s going on. The stakes of the relationships and sacrifices are uneven. Combined with The Raw Series aesthetic, this production is a challenge to understand. I’m not sure FOR THE LOYAL knows what it’s trying to say.
FOR THE LOYAL runs through February 4th at the Athenaeum Theatre.