Family Secrets | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Family Secrets 

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The fabulous, flaky Fisher family is back in town, and I urge you to make their acquaintance. Originally introduced here a year and a half ago when actor-writer Sherry Glaser brought her howlingly funny one-woman show Family Secrets to the Royal George, the Fishers are now receiving visitors at suburban Apple Tree Theatre, where Glaser's husband-coauthor Greg Howells has directed local performer Donna Blue Lachman in the work. Lachman (known for such autobiographical solo pieces as The Thirst: A New Work for Jew and Clarinet) establishes a smart, comfortable audience rapport as she plays three generations of New York Jews transplanted to California. Mort is a retired accountant struggling to cope with his two daughters' lifestyles; Fern is the elder daughter, who takes pride in her drug-free labor and delivery, assisted by her current boyfriend and former lesbian lover; Sandra is Fern's teenage sister, whose ambivalent account of a recent date rape ("I didn't want to hurt his feelings") is as chilling as it is sad; and Rose is Mort's wryly wise mother, who describes the wonderment of a late-in-life love affair. Most memorable is Mort's wife Bev, who rebounded from a mental breakdown (the last straw was when the kids wouldn't eat her blue-cheese lasagna) with the help of lithium, a midlife college education, and insights gained from confronting her own mother--only ashes in an urn at that point, but it was still a wonderful conversation. The painfully hilarious script's periodic brushes with caricature are redeemed by its readily recognizable truths about hurt and healing and by Lachman's well-shaped characterizations. Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place, Highland Park, 847-432-4335. Through January 5: Wednesdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. Special Christmas holiday schedule through December 29: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. Special New Year's holiday schedule December 30 through January 5: Tuesday, 6 and 9:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. Regular shows, $22-$25; $35 for the shows on Tuesday, December 31 (includes champagne).

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos by Jennifer Girard.

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