Strong Performances Elevate Pegasus’s ‘If You Split a Second’


Have you ever been so enraged that you’ve almost lost it? I’m talking the kind of red-hot rage that creeps behind the eyes, makes you tense and sweaty, brings you right up to the boiling point.

You’re at the knife’s edge. If you act on this anger, there will be consequences. Life, as you know it, will change drastically. Or, you could simply passively sit back without intervention.

In Dana Lynn Formby’s thought-provoking new play, If You Split a Second, the hot-headed but good-hearted Mick (Dylan McGorty) doesn’t bite his tongue. It’s not of his nature. He acts out, and the cost is prison time. While behind bars, his wife and daughter (both played by the standout Stephanie Chavara) continue on, with varying degrees of success. To rub salt into the wound, Mick’s wife goes on to marry his high-strung lawyer bother Patrick (also played by McGorty).

Formby asks some smart questions about the choices one makes and how those choices impact those you love. With a flair for natural, character building dialogue, Formby is a master at creating real, and really flawed characters. Luckily, her work is buoyed by excellent performances from this two-person cast under Ilesa Duncan’s unfettered direction. The scenes between the incarcerated Mick and his emotionally distant daughter are particularly compelling.

If there’s anything I missed in Pegasus’s production, it’s the unsettling sense of “what if?” Yes, our actions have consequences – as they should have. However, in Second, we already see where the play is going well before it gets there, which muddles the otherwise powerful final moments. I get the sense Formby and company want us to feel that life is driven by our of-the-moment choices. However, I walked away feeling life offers a predetermined ending point – which doesn’t always make for compelling drama.

“If You Split a Second” plays through June 2 at Leo Lerner Theater, 4520 N. Beacon Street. More info here >

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