Guilt plus grief is a powerful combination. Add in a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, and you have an emotional ticking time bomb.
The two one-acts in Technically Related: Two Variations on Love & Family, presented by Rite of Passage Theatre Company for this year’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, shine the spotlight on the complicated relationships of siblings.
In the first, Unit Cohesion, Rite of Passage co-founder Clay Wheeler creates Cam and Michelle, brother and sister who show their love with bickering and name-calling. We meet them on the day of their alcoholic father’s funeral, an emotionally raw time when even the best of families tend to revisit old and new grievances. David Jeremiah’s war veteran, Cam, is quick to anger, and his relationship with his sister is volatile. Ariana Cook, as the career-minded sister, gives as good as she gets. Their significant others, Cassie Bann as Cam’s wife and Adrian Godinez as Michelle’s fiancé, are just along for the ride.
The second part, Hard Candy Christmas by Christina Cigala, features Jeremiah, Bann and Godinez as three siblings waiting to visit their mom on Christmas in the activity room of a drug rehabilitation hospital, where mom is recovering from addiction to painkillers. Here the bone of contention starts out over what each has brought their mom for Christmas, but escalates to a much more serious dynamic. Lulu Ward is delightful as the mother who chants Alcoholics Anonymous platitudes “until they sound right,” moving deftly from perky to rage and then resignation.
Director Christopher Eastland leads his actors in both one-acts through the emotional landmines without letting either piece turn into a marathon yell fest. That’s not easy to do when there are constant conflicts and emotional situations. Both pieces have a poignant moment at the end, a gentle reminder that underneath the messiness lies a family bond.
Almost every family has some amount of dysfunction. Both families in Technically Related have issues that revolve around specific situations, which makes them more interesting than merely watching another crazy family take emotional swings at one another.
◊ Click the calendar link above to see future performances for Technically Related, which plays in the Addison Theatre Centre's Studio Theatre. View a full Out of the Loop Fringe Festival schedule here.