Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

A Shadow that Broke the Light
Sympatico Theatre
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Waiting for Lefty

Charlie DelMarcelle
Photo by Kate Raines
One family's heartbreaking story, a powerful call to action, and thoroughly captivating theater, A Shadow that Broke the Light takes an unflinching look at the staggering impact of the overdose crisis in America. Beautiful and sharp as broken glass, Charlie DelMarcelle's one man play is disturbing but never didactic or hopelessly bleak. The premier Philadelphia run ended on January 28, 2023, but I expect this important work will be on stage again soon.

Adam and Charlie DelMarcelle, the co-creators of A Shadow that Broke the Light, lost their brother to an opioid overdose in 2014. Adam's artwork is featured in the show as a powerful symbol of the lives lost–the enraging number of unnecessary lives lost–to this devastating epidemic. Charlie performed the piece, sharing first person accounts of the friends and family left behind by overdose victims. Charlie's performance was understated and authentic; he seemed at times to be going completely off script just to chat and connect with the audience.

It was a breathtaking piece, and I found myself wishing I could hear more of each story. In fact, I wish everyone could hear what Charlie and Adam DelMarcelle are so desperately trying to tell us with A Shadow that Broke the Light. The victims of the overdose crisis are not just the individuals whose lives are lost; they are the parents, children, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends who survive them.

Simpatico Theatre's A Shadow that Broke the Light ran from January 11-28, 2023, at The Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake Hotel, 302 S. Hicks St., Philadelphia PA. For more information visit