By Jackson Riley
The Greenhouse Theater Center's Solo Celebration series has been a wonderful experiment in our great city, even though the productions have been a mixed bag. Unfortunately, the fifteenth and final production of this inaugural (?) series, Circumference of a Squirrel by John Walch, is one of the least memorable of the entire seven month endeavor.
Will Allan stars under the direction of Greenhouse Theater Center Artistic Director Jacob Harvey, and he does an excellent job of remaining engaging through the 90 minute show. Allan portrays several characters throughout the play, and most of them are fully-formed and engaging. The worst of these, however, is the part of the woman he loves throughout his life. I still cannot wrap my mind around this choice, as Allan portrays her with an over-the-top valley girl voice most often attributed to a gay male. All of the other voices that Allan puts on for his characters are subtle and realistic, making his conversations exciting and engaging. However, this character seems to be the one chosen for comedic relief, and it makes this relationship, which spans the entire play, nothing more than an obvious, unfunny joke.
Perhaps this was their attempt to make the script funnier, as the comedic moments are few and far between. The pretentious script is overly detailed, often meandering, and presents the utterly forgettable journey of a man struggling with his hatred for his anti-Semetic father. The First World Problems presented in this play are simply embarrassing when compared to the uncountable number of important stories out there begging to be told that we've never heard before, making this quite an odd selection to close out the entire series.
Allan tackles the emotional shifts in the script with ease, and Harvey stages the piece quite well. While there are no technical aspects of the show worth writing home about, Harvey and Allan worked quite well together in keeping the piece moving. Unfortunately, there's simply no one to root for and nothing to care about. If you're a fan of Allan's, I'd certainly recommend the piece as a solid showcase of his talent. For anyone else, though, there are countless other plays currently running in Chicago alone that'd be more worth checking out. In Trump's America, I'm just not interested in another story about the half-problems of a mediocre white guy.
Circumference of a Squirrel continues at the Greenhouse Theater Center through February 12th. More information here.