Noah teaches high school social studies and his knowledge of Chicago’s history is impressive. But as he narrates the ups and downs of Chicago’s past we discover that the history lesson might also be a metaphor for Noah’s rocky relationship with his adopted daughter. Noah also happens to be a widowed gay parent struggling to cope with his husband’s death while trying to strengthen communication with his rebellious daughter (who’s bent on finding her birth mother) and attempting to form a new relationship with a young fellow teacher. Noah, like the city itself, is not one to be stopped by fire, wind, water or any other challenges.
Noah’s story is a heart-rending, eloquent new play by Caitlin Montanye Parrish, collaborating with Erica Weiss, the production’s director. An homage to the perseverance of this “City of Big Shoulders,” it is also a tribute to every stalwart citizen who calls Chicago his home. Named for the ocean-like Lake Michigan, the very nature of water, liquid, solid and gas shapes this story of survival and love. Played on a simple set enveloped in rippled canvas, over which John Boesche’s marvelous, sometimes animated historical projections flow, this play touches the heart with its spirit.
Stef Tovar bares his soul as Noah, a middle-aged parent trying desperately to reconnect with Jira, his adopted daughter (touching teenage actress Falashay Pearson) while beginning a new relationship with Liam (brilliant newcomer Alex Hugh Brown), the young English teacher who brings poetry, humor and wisdom to their world. Lili-Anne Brown is strong as Tia, the mother who gave up Jira because she was just a baby herself. Altogether, this exquisite cast bathes in the waters of truth.