CHAPATTI is a story of two lonely seniors; one loves his dog. The other, Betty, loves cats. He’s a bit of a pessimist while she’s a bright seer of hope. Sounds like a perfect romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day, right?
And it does – SPOILER ALERT – have a happy ending. But it takes a while to get there. Too long, in fact. But the opening night audience I was with was poised to leap to their feet at the end in appreciation.
The lush and rich in detail set is that of a quaint Irish pub, though the action doesn’t take place there. Instead, the playwright uses direct address for the majority of the play to tell us the story of these two lonely hearts. I like direct address as a mechanism when done in moderation but its far too long into the show before Jonathan Gillard Daly (“Dan”) and Sarah Day (“Betty”) start to interact. They are aided by Jay Hobson as “The Barman,” who serves more as a stage hand. He has a warm presence while doing so.
The last twenty minutes or so of the play pick up nicely and come to a satisfying climax. It is a charming show and I always marvel at actors who can remember all those words and never leave the stage. It’s a job well done by all involved.
I’m glad I slept before I tried to write this review. It needed to simmer because as I type this I’m much more fond of the show than I was during its one hour and forty-five minute performance. It’s a little depressing at points and perhaps in 30 more years I’ll have a better resonance with the specific type of loneliness these two feel. For now, though, I am respecting the storytelling and the fine acting.
If you’re looking for a more mature Valentine’s Day date night, then this might be the one for you.
CHAPATTI plays through March 8th in the Thompson Shelterhouse at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Click here for more information.