The Fourth Walsh: “God’s Work Illuminates”

An abusive father imprisons his eighteen children in the basement. He beats them for minor infractions based on his fundamentalist beliefs. After being caged for nine years, a young girl begins to heal. Her resilience is showcased as she touches the lives of others. Although this true story is heinous, this play illuminates the hope in the darkness.

Albany Park Theatre Project first produced GOD’S WORK in 2006. This new production features an all new 22 person ensemble, ranging in ages 14-18. The directorial team of David Feiner, Stephanie Paul, Maggie Popadiak, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez effectively orchestrate the large, young and talented cast. The entire show has a lyrical rhythm. The children line up for the father’s role call. The appointed snitch recites his siblings‘ violations with a poetic cadence. Their punishments are illustrated by a paint stroke. The absence of the actual violence adds to the overall artistic feel of the piece. This is more performing art than drama.

Paul and Popadiak double as movement directors. Their choices bring both a uniformity and cyclical nature to the basement life. The mother births a child at the top of the stairs. The newest child slithers down the stairs, is collected in a laundry basket and then is dressed in identical rags. The repeated sequences have a ballet-like quality. The ensemble moves in impressive unison in their captivity.

One of the most beautiful scenes involves a Bunraku-style puppet designed by Brandon Campbell and Lacy Katherine Campbell. Two adults are bathing Rachel as a baby. The interaction has a tender soulfulness about it. And then there is playfulness too. Later, the scene is mimicked with a now ten year old Rachel (played by Maidenwena Alba). Again, the movement is gentle and loving. Knowing what has transpired, the bath is a type of re-birth. The activity is heart-swelling as the paint is wiped off the child.

GOD’S WORK is APTP’s fourth play to be produced downtown. Their innovative approach is engaging. Their revelation of truth and evil is unforgettable imagery.

Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn
Devised and performed by Albany Park Theatre Project
Directed by David Feiner, Stephanie Paul, Maggie Popadiak, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez
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