Thriller on Clover Road

Philip Earl Johnson explains to Gwendolyn Whiteside how the deprogramming is going to work. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
Philip Earl Johnson explains to Gwendolyn Whiteside how the deprogramming is going to work. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

3.5 stars

“On Clover Road” keeps you on the edge of your seat.

It’s not often that a play comes around that creates such drama and suspense,  your heart races and you might have to look away. Such is the case with the live performance of “On Clover Road,” playing at American Blues Theater through March 16, 2019.

The title itself implies a bit of luck that finding a four-leaf clover might bring. In a sense, the play is about luck too, both good and bad, and how it impacts the characters.

Written by Steven Dietz and directed by Halena Kays, “On Clover Road” tells the story of an angry, frustrated mother who meets with a cult de-programmer believing she will be reunited with her runaway daughter. Her daughter has been gone for more than four years and the mother has all but given up hope.

From left Gwendolyn Whiteside, Philip Earl Johnson and Grace Smith in On Clover Road. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
From left Gwendolyn Whiteside, Philip Earl Johnson and Grace Smith in On Clover Road. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

The setting is a dilapidated, abandoned motel on a desolate American road. But something is amiss and Kate must use all of her wits to make sure her luck doesn’t run out.

The show stars Joseph Jefferson Award winners and American Blues Theater Ensemble members Gwendolyn Whiteside as Kate Hunter and Philip Earl Johnson as Stine.

The always-excellent Whiteside, also the company’s artistic director, goes through a gamut of emotions in a single day, taking the audience on a journey that illuminates her strength and courage

Johnson is so real as the de-programmer that he becomes the character. Jon Hudson Odom (Harris McClain) is the charismatic cult leader. Grace Smith (The Girl) and Caroline Phillips (The Girl) are the young, impressionable girls under his spell. Phillips in particular demonstrates well the impact of the cult’s influence.

Kudos to scenic designer Lizzie Bracken for a foreboding set and Alexander Ridgers (lighting) for creating those ominous shadows.

DETAILS:  “On Clover Road” is at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, through March 16, 2019. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets and other information, call (773) 654.3103 or visit AmericanBluesTheater.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

 

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