Nothing Special Productions’ chaotic ‘LET X’ just doesn’t add up

Let X = one confounding play
Let Y = one confused audience member
Therefore, (X + Y) / (a talented cast desperately trying to hold things together) = one major headache

Maybe I’m just stupid. I mean, I’ve never been good at math. But Gwydion Suilebhan’s 90 minute play takes us so deep inside his head and through so many layers, I was lost 5 minutes into it and never dug myself out of the equation.

Oh, but it’s ok because the playwright, who’s played by an actor (not to be confused with another actor who also plays the playwright), stands up in the audience to, essentially, apologize for the play’s confusifying structure.

So, we’re all cool, right? I mean, if we acknowledge the play’s a mess within the play, that makes it ok, right?

I mean, I’m not a playwright, but I think it’s a warning sign if the characters in your play keep helplessly yelling out “Wait, I’m confused!”

Honey, we all are.

I appreciated the uniqueness of the idea: a playwright has lost control of the script — and his life — so he tries to re-write it; but if you just let things go, it’ll work itself out in the end. It’s just that there are so many metaphors and what-nots going on here: the playwright’s life is going off the rails, and his alter-ego, naturally, is a train conductor; his wife is a mathematician who runs around with a calculator predicting things like the arrival of trains; the blending of onstage and offstage worlds; the twisting of reality through an artist’s vision; the loss of control; a “Sliding Doors” moment of “What if I got on that train right now with that girl? Would my life be different?”

But, by the end of the play, I was just confused. Too many ideas and none of them focused or, more importantly, presented in a way that made me care what’s going on. And while the cast is filled with talent, they resort to yelling and running about to keep up with the chaotic material. It’s exhausting.

That said, I look forward to Nothing Special Productions’ next effort. They always keep us on our toes! And they were recently named the “Best Off-Loop Theatre Company” by the Chicago Reader‘s readers and community.

“LET X” plays through July 20, Mondays through Wednesdays, at Strawdog Theatre’s space, 3829 N Broadway St. More info here >

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