A father and daughter have it out in I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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A father and daughter have it out in I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard

In the process, we all learn, despite our initial impressions, that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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Things it would be good to inherit from a famous playwright father: deep industry connections, flawless technique, a broad handle on what being an artist is about. Things it would be less good to inherit from a famous (belligerent, out of touch) playwright father, but which Ella (Amanda Caryl Fink), his actress daughter, is irremediably saddled with in Halley Feiffer's astonishing play: everything else. Love has strings in this taut, searing two-hander, directed by Cole von Glahn for First Floor Theater. By that I mean Ella is the best little girl David (Tim Kidwell) could ever want, only he'd rather she be cast as Masha and not lowly Nina in The Seagull off Broadway. Ella worships David—his wisdom, his accolades, his impossibly high standards—until she doesn't anymore. Then this turns into father-daughter theater in complete tailspin, one generation's follies T-boning the next's at full throttle.

Fink turns in one of those performances that diagnoses the lifestyle it portrays. Her chardonnay tirades are a critique of chardonnay and of tirades. By the end of the show, Kidwell hasn't so much redeemed himself as he has participated in a reversal of fortune; Fink musters a pigheadedness we had failed to see at first, and it looks in an uncanny way like David's own mean self. In its study of how people can become the thing they hate most, this play is serious business indeed. It's also a wild-ass time and not to be missed.   v

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