Independence | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Independence, Pantheon Productions. In his play Independence Lee Blessing digs into the complexities of the relationships between mothers, daughters, and sisters--the demands, gifts, and expectations that pass down from one generation to the next and the way sisters share, delegate, and divide both the burdens and blessings of inheritance.

The women in Independence reflect the tension between how they've been taught to behave and who and what they actually want to be, and the actresses in Domenick Danza's in-the-round staging play the ranges of their roles with ease. The emotionally disturbed mother, Evelyn (Patricia Thompson), acts as harsh tyrant with her daughters, but the needy child within her bubbles to the surface; Kess (Maria Bortell), the firstborn, is passionate and independent on her own but becomes silent and withdrawn in her mother's presence; Sherry (Julie Taylor), the youngest, is the abrasive rebel at home, but her outside behavior shows she's starving for love and recognition; and Jo (Mo Williams), the angelic caretaker, transforms by acknowledging the strength of her own will, dreams, and desires. Danza finds the cadences and rhythms of Blessing's finely crafted scenes, using the cast's emotional intensity to evoke the past, present, and future ghosts contained in this family's house. --Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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