Girl Found is still lost | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Girl Found is still lost 

Barbara Lhota's new play raises questions it can’t answer.

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Steven Townshend

Six years after she disappeared from her Detroit home, a girl called Sophie (Clara Byczkowksi) turns up at a homeless shelter in Canada. She's 17. She doesn't remember much about her past beyond her name. The little girl lost is now found, and her family rejoices. Barbara Lhota's new play Girl Found begins with the happy ending, then explores its dark origins and aftermath.

The troubles begin to reveal themselves from the moment Ellie (Katherine Swan) arrives at the shelter to retrieve Sophie: Ellie is Sophie's aunt and legal guardian. Sophie's mother, Eva (Tricia Rogers), also lives with her. Eva is an addict and a liar. Ellie is a bartender and a codependent. Noah (James Mercer), Ellie's ex-fiance and Sophie's father figure, works in medical IT and left town after Sophie vanished. Sophie's return ought to be the glue that brings them back together, yet as they discover, their problems don't evaporate because of one miracle. The continued probing of the social worker (Sara Robinson), psychologist (Kathrynne Wolf), news reporter (Whitney Dottery), and federal agent (Robinson again) uncovers traumas and flaws; Noah, Ellie, and Eva struggle to achieve a harmonious domestic life; Sophie's childhood best friend (Dottery) has difficulty recognizing her. Is loss more orienting than its resolution, or is it simply impossible to compensate for events of the past? Unfortunately, the play doesn't really examine these questions with any more depth than a Lifetime movie. Idle Muse's production, directed by Alison Dornheggen, features a high-quality ensemble on a distractingly overblown set by Sarah Lewis.   v


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