Good Boys | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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GOOD BOYS, Chicago Theatre Company. This play by the pseudonymous "Jane Martin" examines the aftermath of a Columbine-style high school shooting. The father of the sole black victim tracks down the father of the white shooter-suicide in a Florida park eight years after the event. The black father--Thomas Thurman (Phillip Edward Van Lear), a minister--wants to learn everything he can about his son's death. But James Erskine (Chris Jackson), the father of the shooter--a bullied misfit--wants to forget. Once a dot-com executive, Erskine has split from his wife and lives in a transient hotel, drinking away his days. Thurman wants closure. Erskine believes there's no such thing.

Good Boys is articulate and perceptive, but Martin--who's built a reputation for crafting monologues--loses us with relentless speechifying, barraging us with words that seem little more than a laundry list of emotional grievances: "This is what happened and this is how I feel and these are my regrets and this is what I want you to do." And so on, until the long night is over.

A capable cast strives to add spark. Van Lear perfectly captures the cadences and demeanor of a black minister hanging on to a slender thread of faith. And Chris Zumwalt plays the shooter with the goofiness and bad judgment turned deadly that puts one in mind of Jim Carrey, serial killer.

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