Many of us are TV crime show fanatics. We must be, or why would there be “Law and Oder” ( many versions) on day and night, or “CSI” or “Criminal Minds”. Mystery books are also best sellers and in the last few years, we have been witness to some very intense theater dealing with cops and “their stories”! If you love police stories and if you loved ” A Steady Rain”, the new World Premiere of Joshua Rollins’ ”A Girl With Sun In Her Eyes” will suit you to a “T”. This is a powerful 90 minute drama that deals with how we as individuals would deal in a situation that could damage our lives forever. What if, under circumstances that would cost you everything you have built in your life, you had an opportunity to do one thing , even if wrong, that would in fact allow you to continue on your path? Would you take that step?
In this taut story, directed by Matt Miller on the tiny, intimate stage of The Second Stage, in Wrigleyville, Pine Box Theater, we watch as a young man is being questioned by two police officers about his whereabouts this evening. It turns out that an undercover policewoman who has been working the streets as ahooker is missing, and has been for several hours. As it turns out , the cops ,Landy ( a powerful performance by Steve Pickering) the missing cops ex-partner and perhaps more and Goggins ( the always reliable Karen Aldridge) who earlier in her career was a partner of his as well, so there are some strange ties to the cops involved. William ( Vincent Teninty, truly handles this role with just the right touch to make him real, someone we might know, or even our self).
Here he was out for a fun evening with his buddies, a sort of Bachelor Party at a strip club tossing down a few and the next thing he knows, twocops come to pick him up at the local IHOP for questioning as his fingerprints are all over the place. The well written script uses flashbacks to unravel the mystery of what really happened that night. There is another suspect as well, Darnel ( Sean Parris) who it turns out is seeking vengeance from officer Lucy ( deftly handed by Audrey Francis) who he feels is responsible for his brother’s death. These are the main characters in the story. The other performer in this production is Lucy Sandy who plays several roles, each with its own identity and look.
During the weaving of this story, we learn more about the meaning of the title as officer Goggins, during the interrogation tell William a story 9 a story that is closely related to the playwright’s own story). She was driving down the street on a bright and sunny day. The sun was so bright tht in order to proceed, she had no choice but to squint. As she hit an extra special burst of sun, a young man riding a bicycle came from nowhere and she almost hit him would have surely resulted in death. No one was around, but she thought about what would have happened if she had hit him. Jail? Worse? The question arises – “What would you do to protect your life never hurt the ones who surround you”?
Rollins tells a powerful story and Miller creates a canvas that will stay in your mind and memory even after you leave the theater. There are some great fight scenes (Matt Hawkins) in this very small space with a minimal set(Grant Sabin) that works! No fancy costumes, no elaborate set, some very solid and important lighting (Julian Pike) and the original music (Anthony Schneider) and sound design ( Joe Court)along with the props (Zach Stinnett) are the icing on the cake. I have a feeling that this play will end up moving to a larger theate along the way and perhaps make its way to New York ( as did “A Steady Rain”- let’s hope they don’t bring in different actors as thiscast is perfect. I will not reveal any more as the mystery needs to be unraveled before each viewer or it doesn’t work.