Highway Patrol Review – Something Unique

Dana Delany in Highway Patrol at the Goodman Theatre
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I grew up with Internet friends. These were people I knew only from message boards, people I connected with across time and space through the power of shared interests and the world wide web. The advent of social media only increased the frequency of these connections, and I still think fondly of these online-only friends.

Highway Patrol, currently playing at Goodman Theatre, tackles just these sorts of friendships. Assembled from the real online messages of actor Dana Delany, the show traces the evolution of her relationship with Cam, a sick thirteen-year-old fan living in Costa Rica. Dana delights in Cam’s sense of humor and surprisingly mature insights, but matters grow more complicated when Cam claims to be connecting with the spirits of Dana’s deceased relatives.

Dana Delany in Highway Patrol at the Goodman Theatre

The Internet is a tricky place to dramatize, despite the amount of drama that goes down there. DMs and emails are not particularly interesting to watch, so instead Dana and Cam chat aloud, with projected time stamps and separate pools of light reminding us that they aren’t sharing physical space. Delany and Thomas Murphy Molony (Cam) have a very realistic dynamic; conversation flows naturally between them, and the development of their friendship feels organic. Delany has tons of personality, which shines through in her dynamite performance, and Molony has oodles of charm, making it impossible not to root for their characters. Dot-Marie Jones, of Glee fame, plays Cam’s grandmother Nan and brings another exceptional element to the show.

Dot-Marie Jones and Dana Delany in Highway Patrol at the Goodman Theatre

The script is well-selected and smartly arranged to create a nuanced and moving arc out of these online chats. Everything included feels essential, and the special connection between Dana and Cam becomes palpable in their every interaction. This is also a production where design work is essential. Projections by Yee Eun Nam dominate the space, not only demarcating time and place, but also setting the tone for the conversations onstage. Lighting by Jen Schriever is tightly focused to help tell the story, and sound design by Sinan Refik Zafar is intensely atmospheric, creating moods that reflect the mental and emotional state of the characters. Music also plays an important role in the story, as Dana and Cam trade songs to brighten each other’s days.

Thomas Murphy Molony and Dana Delany in Highway Patrol at the Goodman Theatre

Highway Patrol is unexpected. What, in the hands of other creators, might have been a flat if wholesome story, transforms into a fascinating piece about the ways we interact with other humans in a digital world. Stellar performances and smart design choices bring vivid life to a well-constructed script, and the result is something unique. Get to the Goodman and see Highway Patrol.

Ticket Information

Location: The Goodman’s Albert Theatre, 170 N Dearborn Street

Dates: January 20 – February 18, 2024

Tickets: $25 – 90. Available at the Goodman Theatre website or by phone at 312.443.3800.

All photos by Liz Lauren


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