Kyle Hatley in Danny Casolaro Died For You at TimeLine Theatre Company
Kyle Hatley and Demetrios Troy in Danny Casolaro Died For You at TimeLine Theatre Company
TimeLine Theatre Company. By Dominic Orlando. Directed by Nick Bowling. With Kyle Hatley, Demetrios Troy, Philip Earl Johnson, Mark Richard, Dennis William Grimes, Jamie Vann. Running time: 2hrs 10mins; one intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
Minneapolis-based playwright Dominic Orlando bases his play on the real-life fate of the title character, his own cousin. Danny Casolaro (Kyle Hatley, making a welcome return to the Chicago stage several years after following Eric Rosen to Kansas City Rep) is a small-time freelance journalist who stumbles onto a web of government-related conspiracy involving the CIA, the Reagan and Bush Justice Departments, the Iran-Contra scandal, Central American drug cartels, a money-laundering bad guys' bank—the interconnected courruption never seems to end. Danny dug too deep and wound up dead; his death was ruled a suicide, though as Orlando illustrates, there was plenty about it that was fishy.
The trouble with Orlando's script parallels the one that undoes Danny in it: He tries to wrangle every detail into a single story, and ends up with an unwieldy mass that's difficult to track even if you read the program's glossary of major players beforehand. That Orlando uses a cousin of Danny's, who doesn't share Orlando's name or biography, as pseudonarrator further clouds the storytelling—is this some other real-life cousin, a fictionalized stand-in for the playwright, or something in-between? The casting seems a bit off as well; neither Hatley nor Demetrios Troy, as the cousin, read as old enough to have college-age children, let alone as members of the same family.
Director Nick Bowling does his best to make sense of all the intrigue with a relatively spare, three-quarter round staging, with Philip Earl Johnson, Jamie Vann, Dennis William Grimes and Mark Richard coming and going as various shadowy figures. But the play's ending, which departs from the style of the two hours that came before it, feels like an arbitrary act of catharsis for the author, perhaps, but unsatisfying for the rest of us.