By Nancy S Bishop for Third Coast Review
Shattered Globe Theatre’s new play, Flood, is about family issues—parents who don’t understand their children, children who never call home, elderly parents who ignore the realities of today’s world. There may be nothing new about that, but the clever script by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen starts a smart, lightning-quick conversation about the looming climate disaster. The result is an entertaining play that will make you wince in recognition of its righteousness.
Flood is skillfully directed by Kenneth Prestininzi. His staging creates dueling scenes between parents Edith and Darren, apparently living in the 1950s, and adult son and daughter Edith Junior and Darren Junior, in today’s world—or in the future. In their world, the water is rising, rising, rising but Edith (Linda Reiter) and Darren (H.B. Ward) can’t see that from their 19th floor apartment. Darren is obsessively building his wooden matchstick masterpiece and ignores Edith’s pleas for him to finish so they can have a cup of tea, sit side by side, and look out the window at their beautiful view.
Meanwhile, Darren Junior (Carl Collins) and Edith Junior (Sarah Patin) call home on the available tin-can phone system and desperately ask to talk to their father. But Darren is too busy and will call later, after he finishes his masterpiece.
Playwright Deen’s script features plenty of examples of theater of the absurd and may even remind you of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth with its climate disaster theme. His stage directions specify that Darren wears a mask that covers most of his face; the playwright notes that the mask is “something we see and he does not.” At times during the play, the wall behind Darren’s worktable becomes a window that displays clouds, a heavy rainstorm or other inclement weather. (Projection design is by Smooch Medina.)
Chicago theater veterans Reiter (London Road, Rose) and Ward (Rock n Roll, Chimerica) provide compelling, realistic performances as Edith and Darren. (I almost didn’t recognize Ward without his mustache.) Collins’ and Patin’s roles are smaller but give them the opportunity to display their comic talents.
Lauren Nichols’ scenic design perfectly represents a mid-century living room (that starburst wall clock!), properly lit by Jared Gooding. Danny Rockett’s sound design, which we always appreciate in his role as resident sound designer at Trap Door Theatre, brings eerie and watery sounds as the flood approaches. Yvonne Miranda’s costume designs are especially clever in preparing Edith and Darren Junior for the watery end of the world. I also admired her choice of Edith’s spectator pumps.
Deen’s script shows his talent for sharp, witty dialogue and realistic character conflict. His other plays include The Betterment Society, The Vessel and The Shaking Earth. Director Prestininzi directed Flood in its world premiere at Kansas City Rep in 2022; Chicago actors Laura Fisher and Matt DeCaro starred. He teaches at Connecticut College and the National Theater Institute and has directed plays across the US and in other countries.
Flood by Shattered Globe Theatre continues through March 9 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $15-$52 for performances Thursday-Sunday. Buy tickets and get more info at sgtheatre.org or call the Theater Wit box office at 773-975-8150,
For more information on this and other plays, see theatreinchicago.com.