Alley Theatre

Directed by Michelle Kelley and Brent Wooldridge

Through March 24

Icarus, in Greek mythology, is the boy who flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax on his fabricated wings, causing him to fall to his death. His father warned him of the danger, but the thrill of flight was too great and Icarus flew higher and higher, trying to touch the sun.

Icarus, the play by Edwin Sanchez now on stage at the Alley Theatre, deals with dreams and their consequences — the dream of being beautiful, the dream of being loved and those dreams that are best buried in the sand.

At first, I expected this to be a straightforward love story with unusual characters, but by the end of the show, I was incredibly touched by its depth and poignancy.

Anna Marie Hughes and Doug Horn play sister and brother Altagracia and Primativio, a couple of misfits. Altagracia has a large birthmark covering half her face and Primativio has limited mobility and a speech impediment. Homeless, they — along with their entourage of the slightly off Mr. Ellis (Bill Becker) and Mr. E’s stuffed cat — squat in a beach house, where Primativio can practice swimming. Altagracia has told Primativio that he can swim out and touch the sun, which will make him the most popular and most loved person in the world. Their lives revolve around this goal and Primativio’s “training.”

But shortly after arriving at the beach house, Beau (James Kelley), a masked friend of the house’s owner, shows up. Recovering from a car crash that killed his brother, he was looking for solitude, and instead ends up bunking with these self-described “freaks,” who accept him as an ugly person like themselves because of the mask.

Completing this cast of oddities is “the Gloria” (Sue Sorley), the fading never-quite-a-star who lives in an adjacent beach house.

There is something subtly deep about these characters — especially the innocuous Mr. E. — that comes through gradually. Commentary on beauty, dreams and love are expressed in a unique way.

The cast, under dual directors Michelle Kelley and Brent Wooldridge, is excellent. Hughes wears her anger and bitterness on her sleeve as blatantly as the birthmark on her face. Horn consistently maintains the difficult (and sometimes painful, like when he is dragged down the stairs) persona of Primativio. Becker is darling as crazy Mr. E. and Sorley finds the balance between vampy and washed up as the Gloria. Kelley, through it all, reacts to all these strange characters while keeping his own character intact — and even allowing him to grow.

Highly recommended.

Icarus continues through March 24 at the Alley Theatre, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 seniors and students, though no one under 16 will be admitted. The Alley is located at 1716 N. Illinois St., 317-926-8888. n



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