“Heroes” is a 4-star salute
Remy Bumppo Theatre presents:
reviewed by Katy Walsh
A head of shrapnel, gimp leg and derangement have never been funnier. Remy Bumppo’s Heroes brings three World War I vets together for convalescent camaraderie. Set in an old-soldier home, our heroes amuse each other with tales of nun slapping, terrace invasion defense strategies and escape plans with a 200-pound dog statue in tow. It’s not your grandpa’s war show about reliving the glory days of WW I. Instead, Heroes is about three outcasts (four if you count the dog) banning together in united tolerance for the final battle, old age.
The attack happens instantaneously. You are held prisoner to hysterical dialogue from the first few lines. Witty repartee and strong character development is the ammo used by playwright Gerald Sibleyras and translator Tom Stoppard. Director James Bohnen sends his best men to the front with inspirational guidance. The troops don’t disappoint. Insane ideas presented in a logical manner, David Darlow (Gustave) leads the charge with dead pan precision in delivery. Goading his buddies to go to Indochina instead of on a stupid picnic or reading and responding to other people’s mail, Darlow is a lovable and hysterical curmudgeon. Paranoid that the head nun is trying to kill him, Roderick Peeples (Phillippe) brings a physical comedy element that includes continuously fainting during the show until he rouses himself by shouting, “Take them from the rear, Captain!” (You learn late in the show that has nothing to do with war.) Completing the nonstop able squadron, Mike Nussbaum (Henri) is the charming 25 year resident vet of the institution. Shy but sane, Nussbaum ultimately commands the trio’s every activity with blunt acceptance and quips like, “You are all barking mad except for the dog.”
I’ve never served in a war, but I most definitely bond with friends over enemy activities. Heroes is an experience in friendship. Observing the ensemble’s interaction, you can’t help but find comparisons to your own life. Everyone has that friend who always asks “Am I getting worse?” to which your group responds, “I haven’t noticed.” Or the pal who hates everything, refuses to participate and then wants to know if anyone missed him to which your group responds, “Nobody gave a damn.” Or the buddy who goes along with the crazy plan right up until someone wants to transport a 200 pound dog statue up a mountain. Friends are the heroes that help you conquer life’s battles. Go with one to see this show! Hint for the show: watch man’s best friend during the final scene and curtain call.
Aside: The hero to my left, James, says Heroes was an “all star salute.”
|Stage Manager:||Baleigh Isaacs|
|Asst. Stage Manager:||Kelly Montgomery|
|Set Design:||Tim Morrison|
|Costume Design:||Samantha C. Jones|
|Light Design:||Rich Norwood|
|Sound Design:||Jason Knox|
|Production Manager||Allison Ramsey|
AMUSEMENT BEFORE AND AFTER THE SHOW
Pre-show, I wanted to try something new around the Greenhouse Theater Center. Deciding among the abundance of Lincoln Park bars within a block radiance that had drunks spilling out of windows clad in Bear apparel, I choose to experience Kelsey’s (2265 N. Lincoln) for the first time. Upon review of the menu, I realize Kelsey’s is also Kendall’s (done that). It’s not just my imagination that all the bars in Lincoln Park look the same. They are starting to bust through walls and join forces to become a super power. My bartender, with his #55 jersey, cheerfully takes my order and calls each new Bear fan by name as they walk in the door. Despite the pre-game bustle, my tasty turkey wrap arrives in under five minutes. #55, you are my hero!
After the show, we were challenged to find an alternative to the football throwing antics by crossing the street. Sterch’s (2257 N. Lincoln) is the epitome of a hole in the wall. The bartender is sharing her spinach potstickers with the few regulars in the bar. We order up two Guinness? Nope! Heinekens? Nope! The bartender rattles off a few domestic choices and pushes the $2 PBR special. Nope! We settle on Amistel Light in a can. Nope! It tastes like war rationed metal tainted beer. The bartender does offer to let us wear the bunny head that she usually reserves for drunks. Nope! I’d rather transport a 200 pound dog statue up a mountain.