Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, September 28

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Postcards from the Mess: Sarah Mosk Victory Gardens' Death and the Maiden Tells a Strong and Unsettling Story »

Theater Wed Jun 25 2014

The Late Henry Moss at The Artistic Home: Sam Shepard's Lyrical, Brutal Look at Death and Dying

Tim Musachio and David Vogel. Photo by Tim Knight.

Sam Shepard is known for his in-your-face, verbally and physically violent brawls between brothers or between fathers and sons. His plays like True West, Curse of the Starving Class and Buried Child helped Steppenwolf create its reputation for confrontational theater. He also influenced playwrights like Martin McDonagh, whose 1997 play Lonesome West pits brother against brother in a Shepardesque (and very Irish) way.

The Artistic Home takes up the fourth Shepard play in that lineage, The Late Henry Moss, and gives it a rousing 2.5 hour production in its storefront space on Grand Avenue. Despite opening night lighting glitches, the production clearly shows the acting chops of this ensemble.

As the play opens, Henry Moss (Frank Nall), although already dead, dances to "Besame Mucho" with his lover, Conchalla (the sexy and charismatic Yadira Correa). Then he takes on the corpse position, completely covered by a blanket on a cot in a rundown cabin in the New Mexico desert near Bernalillo. His older son, Earl (David Vogel), sits on a chair at his side. Earl has arrived from New York, summoned by neighbor Esteban (Arvin Jalandoon), who thought Henry was "in trouble." Soon his younger brother Ray (Tim Musachio) arrives from California and the fraternal fun begins.

Henry was dead when Earl arrived and he is not ready to tell anyone or do anything about it, even though, as Ray says, "I think he's starting to stink." Henry has almost no possessions for the brothers to fight over, but they do anyway. A box of cheap tools. Not much in the fridge. A bottle of tequila. But there is one prize: a photo album full of memories. The brothers begin to argue immediately, about events of the past and the present.

Esteban arrives carrying hot soup for Henry. Despite Earl's protests, Ray forces Esteban to look at Henry's dead, not sleeping, body. Later funeral attendants come in with a body bag to take the corpse away.

Ray wants to find out more about how his father died and questions Esteban about the events of the last night, after Henry received his monthly veterans' check. ("It was blood money from killing Japs... I dropped bombs on total strangers...")

Esteban remembers that a taxi driver picked up Henry and Conchalla to take them fishing. Ray gets the driver to come out from Albuquerque, thinking he will get a fare. The taxi driver (Julian Hester) is happy to partake of Henry's bottle, but Ray is determined to learn about that evening with Henry. The driver reenacts the events and is joined in the dreamlike activity by Henry and Conchalla. The trio arrives home after fishing with one tiny dead fish. Conchalla disrobes and takes a bath, proclaiming that she will "bring the fish back to life between my thighs." (The bath scene clearly delighted the male audience member seated next to the tub).

In act two, Earl has a hangover and Ray returns carrying bags of groceries. He's decided he's going to stay. They relive their childhood, including their father beating their mother. Ray hoped Earl would stand up to his father, but he just stood by.

Henry remembers: "Your mother threw me out. She locked me out of the house.... I saw the blood and thought I killed her, but it was me that I killed.... I got in the car and just drove, without a map."

To Earl: "You were there the whole time and you could've stopped me."

Earl replies, "I couldn't. I was scared, I was just too scared." Father and son embrace.

In the final scene, Earl is sitting next to Henry's corpse. Ray says, quietly, "You remember me. I was never one to live in the past. That was never my deal." Earl responds, "Yeah, yeah, right. I remember."

Kaiser Ahmed's direction effectively moves the story from dream to reality and back again and keeps his talented cast in rhythm with the story. Nall is excellent as the very-much-alive Henry. I remember Nall vividly for his Jeff-nominated performance as the cultured and brutal SS captain in the 1999 Famous Door Theatre production of Ghetto. Correa is an exciting and dynamic Conchalla and Hester is quirky and hyperkinetic as the taxi driver. Both Vogel and Musachio bring realism to the constant sibling warfare and Jalandoon's Esteban is believable as the friendly, nervous neighbor.

The set is a nondesign design by Jacob Bray, who has created a believably grungy interior for the deceased bachelor in the desert. Thomas Dixon's musical backgrounds and dance interludes support the story line well. Because of the lightboard problem, opening night was illuminated only by overhead lights, so Scott Pilsbury's lighting design doesn't get a review.

This is not Shepard's best play, but it's an interesting one and gets an excellent production here. But The Late Henry Moss deserves a caveat. It's not for the faint of heart. There are moments when you might wish you had stayed home to read a book. But as a theatrical experience, it's pure Chicago.

The Artistic Home presents The Late Henry Moss through August 3 at 1376 W. Grand Ave. Performance times vary Thursday through Sunday (no show on July 4). Tickets are $28-32 and can be bought online or by calling 866-811-4111. For more information, see or call 312-243-3963.

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15