Only a passing el train makes Throatpunch feel real | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Only a passing el train makes Throatpunch feel real 

The performances themselves fall flat.

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Paul Goyette

Attitude is essential to selling a punk play, but Nothing Without a Company's production of Sharon Krome's Throatpunch doesn't deliver on the promise of its aggressive title. Flat performances plague this tale of three young punks holed up in a small apartment in 1983 Chicago, where they play bad music, experiment with drugs, and hook up in different configurations. The script demands a level of intensity that the ensemble fails to reach, and the actors are still at the line-reading stage rather than fully embodying characters.

Adam Huizenga is the most confident member of the cast as British guitarist Zig, but the rest of the production is so tepid that he pushes into overacting to compensate. Krome doesn't adequately build up to the play's big emotional shifts, and while this story has the bones of a more engaging drama, it needs more meat on its skeleton. The musical element is especially flimsy, and a climactic guitar showdown at the end lands with a thud.

The best moment in the play came by chance at my performance. When Cyn (Tarina Bradshaw) and Nat (Alicia Jade) silently lay together on the couch, the el passed through the Granville stop. The train could be seen in the window behind them, and it was the one moment when the world of the play felt real. That's due to coincidence, but director Anna Rose Ii-Epstein makes a smart decision staging this play in a real apartment overlooking the street. This feels like a real place, even if the cast hasn't filled it with believable people.   v

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