Suspended in front of a blank white slate is a proscenium inside a proscenium (scenic, Andrew Boyce). Two men sit inside, each uniquely unpleasant, each reaching desperately to the other for an emotional connection. Hirst (Jeff Perry), the rich “man of letters” and owner of the decadent home, and Spooner (Mark Ulrich), a random man he met in a bar, proceed to engage in a battle of words. As the scene goes on, I become keenly aware Spooner is taking more than his fair share of the conversation. I seriously thought Spooner was going to grow horns at some point, he’s so whimsical it is hardly trustworthy, but it is fantastic to watch. As Spooner gets more animated, seemingly feeding on Hirst’s apathy, Hirst gets quieter, and harder to understand. I suddenly realize what is happening – he is extremely drunk and slowly shutting down.
Midsommer Flight features the best combination of elements one can find in the theatre: Free, and Quality. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest marks the company’s eighth summer of free Shakespeare performances as an Arts Partner in Chicago. Many productions of this revenge tale/ comedy can get bogged down in all the alternative readings and academia. Under the clever direction of Beth Wolf, however, Midsommer Flight revels in theatricality and proves that The Tempest has a role in our daily lives. Continue reading “Midsommer Flight Is Bringing the Magic of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ to a Park Near You”
Sibling rivalry and resentment is the golden thread that runs through Sam Shepard’s classic play, True West. What begins as a standard tale of bickering between the Golden Child and the Black Sheep quickly takes a hard left turn when we realize that this Black Sheep may be mentally disturbed and harboring violent tendencies. Namir Smallwood plays an arrestingly intense Lee, toggling with ease between a playful and jovial energy and a cold, detached dominance without a moment’s notice. His presence as an aloof angry drunk drives this play, bringing a kinetic element of fear and excitement to an otherwise pedestrian moment. Breaking away from the tenor of Malkovich’s intense performance in the 1984 film, Smallwood’s portrayal of the grifter is still creepy but also somewhat charming and endearing, which helps contextualize why his brother simply wouldn’t call the police on sight. Continue reading “‘True West’ at Steppenwolf Honors the Classic and Shows Shepard a New Frontier”
Why do we keep coming back to Shakespeare?
In the past, I’ve posited that, since we love these stories so much, we want to see what our modern artists think of it, how one’s favorite director or actor or designer interprets this line, or that plot twist. I still believe this, but it does presuppose that Shakespeare’s plays are inherently a good force in the world, and deserving of our love and attention. I have heard several critics of color bemoan the fact that so much of our pop culture and theatre draws so heavily from a white guy who died four hundred years ago – and that we should mindfully attempt to wean ourselves off our culture’s single-minded obsession with trusty old Will. Continue reading “‘King Lear’ at Redtwist Theatre Lacks Thematic Imagination”
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Hamlet introduces the Prince of Denmark (Maurice Jones) as a man standing at the foot of his father’s grave. The rain pours down and this macabre image resembles a superhero origin story. Only Hamlet is no hero. This revenge story has casualties. Barbara Gaines directs a massively skilled cast of players with nuance, intimacy, and the occasional dramatic flare. Continue reading “Minimal, Striking ‘Hamlet’ Gives Method to the Madness at Chicago Shakespeare Theater”
The Man Who Was Thursday is adapted from a novel originally published in 1908, but I went into it knowing nothing and I cannot recommend this approach enough. Currently running at Lifeline Theatre, The Man Who was Thursday is a lovely byzantine maze of subterfuge, false identities, and plot twists, and the less you know going in, the more fun you’ll have. Continue reading “‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ is a Pitch-Perfect Mix of Intrigue, Nostalgia, and Innovation”
Let me start off by saying how happy I am that City Lit Theatre is doing Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega. I love this script, I’ve always loved this script, and all of me wishes that it was done more. A huge booming “THANK YOU” to City Lit and director Terry McCabe for taking on their own adaptation of a painfully underproduced classic. From Spain’s golden age of drama, Fuente Ovejuna is Lope de Vega’s best-known work. A village revolts against a predatory authoritarian who uses his military and religious “power” to justify and prey upon the women of the rural town. The revolutionaries in this story are the women, which is particularly refreshing once you remember that the script was first published in 1619. This play has everything: love, war, drama, humor, history, and relevance. Continue reading “‘Fuente Ovejuna’ at City Lit Revisits a Different Kind of Golden Age”
This year in Chicago Theatre has been tumultuous yet full of so much growth. 2018 saw communities coming together like never before, with the Latinx Theatre Commons‘ Carnaval of New Latinx Works and the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists’ Awards.
We said goodbye to American Theatre Company, under the brief yet highly significant Will Davis’ leadership. His work pushing the boundaries of gender and casting still reverberates throughout this city. New leadership has arisen in the form of Andrew Cutler, Amanda Fink, and Eric Gerard, at Black Box Acting Company as they take over the mantle from Audrey Francis and Laura Hooper. Continue reading “Rescripted Recognized: Year In Review 2018”
It’s 1997 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh at Court Theatre and Harmond Wilks (Allen Gilmore) is running for Mayor. Radio Golf transforms the Court Theatre into an authentic depiction of a small office and its’ surroundings. The detail remains strong from the graffiti on the billboards to the discoloration in the ceilings. This set makes me feel at home in a place I’ve never visited, the raw attention to detail really captures the true essence of places we hear about but never see, such as the parking lot or infamous Aunt Ester’s home. Continue reading “Court Theatre’s ‘Radio Golf’ Rings True Today”
If you’ve studied the American Theater, chances are you’ve heard of Arthur Miller, the King of Kitchen Sink Realism. Trust me when I say, Ivo Van Hove’s A View From The Bridge is not your mother’s Arthur Miller. There isn’t a sink in sight. In fact all unnecessary props, down to certain actor’s shoes, have been eliminated. This actor-driven production features a square set with dark-colored benches and a white floor, designed by Jan Versweyveld. Audience sits on either side of the stage, meaning the actors are playing to a house that’s three-quarters in the round. It feels like a boxing ring with only one entrance and exit upstage, which adds to the feeling of being trapped in the space. Continue reading “The Consequences of Fake Allyship in ‘A View From the Bridge’”