Erin Shea Brady is a contributing writer and critic at PerformInk and Newcity Stage. Directing credits include: Everybody (Brown Paper Box Co.) and Cabaret, Annapurna (staged reading) and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes Theater Project). Erin has assistant directed and dramaturged productions at the Goodman, Jackalope, TimeLine, A Red Orchid, Northlight, and Remy Bumppo. Erin is a graduate of the directing program at Columbia College Chicago, the internship program at Steppenwolf, Jackalope's inaugural Playwright's Lab, and participated in the Goodman's Criticism in a Changing America bootcamp. Erin is a company member with Brown Paper Box Co. and is currently pursuing her MSW at Loyola.
(L-R) Katherine Lamb (Anna) and Cory Hardin (Max). Photo by Austin Oie
Review: FISH EYE at Dandelion Theater
By Erin Shea Brady
“Your twenties are supposed to be confusing.” As a twenty-something, I hear that line a lot – and it’s true. However independent we feel at sixteen, eighteen, nineteen – most of us feel somehow unprepared for real adulthood. It goes beyond starting a successful career, navigating romantic relationships, or learning to balance a budget — the difficulty often lies in figuring out what you want, making unprecedented decisions, and situating yourself in the world
Lucas Kavner’s FISH EYE reflects this beautifully. The primary focus of the play is the relationship of a young, twenty-something couple, Anna (Dandelion’s Artistic Director, Katherine Lamb) and Max (Cory Hardin). At moments, this relationship, though intense, feels ideal – they make each other laugh, they enjoy each other’s company, but outside of the relationship, their goals, and their choices don’t align. This play could easily be reduced to “Is love enough?” – But under Bec Willett’s specific and precise direction, deeper questions are explored. What makes a healthy relationship? How much do our friends influence us – and how can we tell if that influence is wielded for the right reasons? What can we sacrifice in order to support another person, and more importantly, what does real support look like? How do we create the life we want?
As Anna, a dreamer and a doer, Katherine Lamb is charming, thoughtful, and extremely relatable – especially for young theater makers in the audience. Cory Hardin (Max) handles the range of his character well. At first, he is sensitive, funny and loyal – but his loyalty quickly evolves into something quite possessive and manipulative. Within their relationship, we see how one person can find power in uncertainty, while the other attempts to control it. Stephen Rowland is also excellent as Anna’s friend Jay.
The design is cohesive and works well to forward the story – particularly the lighting design by Eric Watkins. I wish the script were clearer about the shifts back and forth in time, but the team does well to compensate.
Overall, this is a vulnerable and honest production of a thoughtful play. Willett has expertly led these actors to play in a lot of the pockets that make up this complicated time in our lives. Kudos to Dandelion Theatre for diving into the uncertainty, trepidation and truthfulness of this script. It is well worth seeing.