The future looks bright for Gaby and Patrick. The young marriage of the interracial couple seems strong and their careers are on an upward swing — he is running for governor; she is a successful attorney. But that all changes when incidents from his past are revealed in “The Firestorm” by Meridith Friedman at First Folio Theatre through April 28.
Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 3 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays.
Steve O’Connell plays Patrick; Melanie Loren is Gaby.
“Patrick is a young politician trying to climb that political ladder,” O’Connell said. “He’s also a newlywed. He’s been married for not quite a year.”
“Gaby’s a pretty multidimensional character,” Loren said. “On the one hand, she is this really driven, go-getter, successful career woman but she is also, like many women who fit that bill, just as dedicated to her spouse as she is to her career.”
Her dedication to her job has already been recognized at the beginning of the play when we learn she has made partner in her law firm. Loren indicated that the play shows us how the secrets that are revealed affect Loren’s career and marriage.
O’Connell said that his character and Gaby have a good relationship, “They are happy together but things start to happen that change that relationship. A bit of information about Patrick’s past comes out — it doesn’t necessarily have to do with politics as much as secrets from his past that affect both the campaign and his relationship with his wife.”
Loren has an interesting connection with playwright Friedman. “I found out after I accepted this role that Meridith Friedman also wrote an episode of a TV show that I did, ‘Chicago Med.’” It made the actor feel that she really understands the playwright. “I get the way she writes,” Loren explained.
O’Connell said that Patrick is an interesting character to play because, “Like any human being, he has a lot of complexity in terms of what his outward and inward selves contain. Those things don’t always match up. He has a strong sense of his narrative self — what he wants to do and who he thinks he is but it doesn’t necessarily add up.”
“One of the most challenging things about playing Gaby,” Loren said, “is that she goes through a lot of shifts. The play is kind of a rollercoaster ride for her and how she is dealing with everything.”
Loren indicated that when she initially read the play she began thinking about the press conferences she has seen in which politicians admit guilt for infidelity — although that’s not the issue in this play — and “what it’s like to watch that woman stand there next to him while he’s being embarrassed on a national or international level,” Loren said. “My character goes through the changes of what that does when the cameras aren’t on.”
There’s a universal message in this play, O’Connell concluded. “There’s a tendency to think that we really know each other because we decided to get married or we decided to commit to each other or we decided to commit to a job,” he said. “That’s usually only the beginning of a journey.”
When: through April 28
Where: First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 31st St., Oak Brook
Information: 630-986-8067; www.firstfolio.org
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.