At a point early on in Noah Haidle’s moving morality/mortality tale, troubled father Daniel (a world-weary Eric Slater, effectively straddling inner sadness and external buoyancy) reads from the daily newspaper to his adoring daughter Beauty (Catherine Combs, delicate and stalwart in equal measure). He is reading about a new discovery: the shape of human DNA. As Daniel expounds on the story to Beauty, he traces the double helix shape through the air with his finger. It’s a beat that director Anne Kauffman wisely chooses to slow down and draw attention to, though the audience may not understand the full significance in the moment. But by the end of this rather mind-bending walk through several generations of interwoven lives within one family (with most of the cast playing multiple characters), it’s abundantly clear how that little twisted ladder pattern affects us all in more ways than we can imagine.
Last year “Smokefall” had its world premiere in the Goodman’s smaller Owen Theatre and set the record for highest number of individual tickets sold in the Owen’s history during its run. Now it has smartly been given a second life (with the original company intact) in the larger Albert Theatre space during the Goodman’s ninetieth anniversary season. And though I didn’t see the original production, this is a show that certainly feels at home in the Albert, with Kevin Depinet’s ambitious combination of abstract and realistic set design filling the space with a familially familiar living room that bends to the will of even the most metaphorical and nonsensical aspects of this twisty-turny narrative. Read the rest of this entry »