Highly Recommended ****
Over the years, theater audiences have gathered to watch stories of dysfunctional families and their members. We have seen what drugs can do to a young person and what can happen when a young person is mistreated or misdiagnosed. Seldom do we get an inside glimpse of a real story such as the one presented by Erasing The Distance, now onstage at The Filament Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue. The play, a roughly 85 minute collection of stories that have been reshaped to intertwine and make us think, as well as see things form a different perspective is well written and directed and is brought to life by five very capable actors. “Tell Me What You Remember”, adapted by Gedalya Chinn and Directed by Nikki Zaleski, takes us on a journey of a family and several generations of that family.
The actors gather around a table at first, looking at the old family pictures that make up the “family album”. These photos, back in our day, were very important to every family as they represented the history of each family and the memories that were preserved. Of course, with the advent of the “electronic world” we live in an d the “cloud”, and of course computers and every phone being a camera as well, we no longer rely on the photo album…a real shame!. In this case, the photos awake some memories as our first speaker, Janet (Eileen Vorbach) takes us into her childhood problems and her family depression, that cause her to get pregnant and married so she can get away from her mother, who “never knew depression”.
This play filled with snippets of life takes us to places where many of us might see things that will spark memories of our lives and one of the beautiful parts of this sterling production is the audience being able to take part in a discussion after the play as well as expressing themselves to their neighbors at the theater. Each audience member also gets an “audience survey” that can be useful for the program as well as for a better understanding of their own lives. This gives them the opportunity to see if the show has indeed caused them to notice new things in their own experiences and lives as far as depression goes. Do most of us not recognize the symptoms or even the causes of depression? That being that case, how many parents miss the signs that their children show, and by missing them miss the opportunity to come to their aid.
The story talks about drugs and how they can be mis-used in handling the cases as “treatment” when they might only be a way of taking some of the pressure off the parents. Much of the story is told to us by Kristin (deftly handled by Jennifer Matthews) who is the daughter of Janet and had experiences that were in some ways “handed down by her mother”. Her husband Charlie (Graham Brown) is a caring man who loves his wife in spite of the things he learns about her and her family. The other cast members, Fred A Wellisch and Stephanie Stroud are all strong in their portrayal of the family members who were unable to recognize the situation that existed in their lives.
In fact, wt the time that this was happening, a time when we were unaware of some of the problems out there, many of us were abused or put down or left to our own devices. That is why groups like the ones that bring these types of stories to the forefront are so important to our communities: Turning Point- solid support when people need it most.