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
Pictured: Maggie Scrantom and Rashaad Hall. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
By Kelsey McGrath
About Face Theatre’s TIME IS ON OUR SIDE is an ideological treasure trove. The text is rich with questions and examinations of personal history, queer history, and the ownership of each. After Annie, Maggie Scrantom, finds her grandmother’s long-lost diary, her best friend Curtis, Rashaad Hall, makes it his mission to bring the journal’s characters to life. Both Curtis and Annie are openly gay and this family artifact has the potential to reveal a similar family history.
TIME IS ON OUR SIDE is rich in thought and language. Playwright R. Eric Thomas has a knack for contemporary speech and easy-going humor — his characters have banter that a 2018 audience has heard before. Dissapointingly, the dialogue lacks drive. I found myself unclear of the stakes surrounding both Annie and Curtis’ motivations; why is Curtis so adamant about discovering more? And why is Annie so resistant? The action takes time to get going. Although Curtis’s efforts are fodder for their co-hosted queer history podcast, neither he nor Annie are invested enough in the project to justify the means.
Thomas has created fascinating auxiliary characters that, unfortunately, aren’t introduced until the end. Esteban Andrea Cruz and Riley Mondragon embody these characters with ferocity. Each require an overdose of energy and performativity to move us forward. And as Annie dives deeper and deeper into their relationship with her grandmother, magic begins to happen. These supernatural choices felt unclear with a haphazard execution. TIME IS ON OUR SIDE tries so hard to drive a message home that it misses the mark on establishing meaningful relationships among characters.
Design accolades are necessary for this production. José Manuel Díaz-Soto’s multidimensional scenic design is a nod to the themes of the show and offers the opportunity of gorgeous, multi-level staging. Accompanied by Claire Sangster’s lighting and Christopher Kriz’s sound and music, the aesthetic, visceral qualities of the experience bring the show to life, giving the production energy when the story lags behind.
TIME IS ON OUR SIDE runs through April 7th. For more information visit aboutfacetheatre.com.