Review: Rubicon Theatre’s “Becoming Ingrid”

| November 21, 2009

A Charming Tale of Transformation

 April Pletcher and Meg Harkins photo by Rory Tanksley

Rubicon Theatre Project presents:

Becoming Ingrid

Written by Liza Lentini
Directed by Jamie Stires
Thru December 5th (ticket info)

reviewed by Katy Walsh

Although Rubicon Theatre Project’s production, Becoming Ingrid, has all the makings for a psychotic stage version of “Single White Female,” spoiler alert: no one gets a stiletto in his eye.

Becoming Ingrid Meg Harkin and April Taylor photo by Bridget SchultzLead character Christine is unhappy and bored with her life. She reads a book and becomes infatuated with Ingrid, the author. Finding out that the real-life Ingrid (April Taylor) is actually teaching a writing course in Scotland, Christine moves to Scotland, determined to become a writer as well.  This obsession with Ingrid leads to her renting the adjacent apartment, collecting her discarded paper scraps, cutting off her hair, and enrolling in Ingrid’s class.

Meg Harkins, playing Christine, narrates Becoming Ingrid as if she is writing a story. Painstakingly choosing the right words throughout the play, Christine unknowingly transforms herself from damsel-in-distress to protagonist. Playwright Liza Lentini has crafted just the right words to make Becoming Ingrid a charming tale of transformation.

Delivering an energetic, enthusiastic performance. Harkins pulls off the delicate balance between idolizer and psycho. Christine leaves the dance floor to hunt down Ingrid in the ladies’ room to give her a handmade Christmas present. It sounds creepy, but the way Harkins does it with big-eyed nervousness, it’s ultimately sweet. Transformation continues to take main stage as actors take on dual roles. Billy Fenderson plays a sophisticated English artist and an obnoxious loud-mouthed Scottish student. Within moments of taking off her sweater, Heidi Katz goes from the bent over gregarious Scottish landlady to the uptight professor. Jessica Thigpen rounds out the trifecta transformation by switching between a Scottish student and a French artist. Kudos to dialect coach Lindsay Barlett for conversion direction.

Heidi Katz, Meg Harkins and Jeff Taylor photo by Rory Tanksley Jeff Taylor, April Pletcher and Bill Fenderson photo by Rory Tanksley
Meg Harkins and Jeff Taylor photo by Rory Tanksley Meg Harkins photo by Rory Tanksley

Becoming Ingrid has a running time of two hours with a ten minute intermission. In 22certain spots, the activity on stage drags ever so slightly. To continue its transformation, director Jamie Stires could tighten up the scenes. Any lasting makeover requires additional moments of cinching it. Katie Schweiger has adorned the set with books and page-covered walls. These are reminders that Becoming Ingrid is the well-written tale of a wannabe writer’s obsession with a successful writer. Because of that, there is a certain amount of pressure to end a review with just the right crafted words to convey meaning: Go see it, and become a fan of the talents of small Chicago theatre companies.

 

Rating: ★★★

 

Aside: comrade Maureen describes the performers as charming, energetic actors.

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

With many choices around the Stage Left Theatre, we chose Mia Francesca (3311 N. Clark). A staple in the Lakeview neighborhood, Mia Francesca is consistent with great Italian food and service. Our valet very accommodatingly agrees to hold our car for dinner and the play. Jason, our server, is attentive, efficient and patient as our chatting keeps us from making quick decisions. Maureen orders up the Pom-tini and I go with the recommended flavorful red wine. We end up splitting the caprese salad and the lemon chicken. The kitchen splits the chicken onto two plates which is such a nicety. Everything is delicious! We’re enjoying our experience so much we decide to order coffee and the profiteroles. But noting the time, we cancel the order to make the curtain.

Post show, we return to Mia Francesca for profiteroles. When the busser arrives with my coffee, I ask for confirmation that it is decaf. He apologizes that it isn’t and quickly replaces the cup. (From many a sleepless night, I can attest that this type of honesty is not a restaurant standard.) The profiteroles arrive at the table. To my delight, the ice cream is pistachio. To Maureen’s chagrin, the ice cream is pistachio. Explaining to the server her nut issues, Maureen owns the fact she did not read the menu description. The server quickly brings two additional profiteroles with vanilla ice cream. To our delight, the server does not charge us for the additional dessert. Later standing on the sidewalk, we are looking for the valet to give him our ticket. He pulls up… in our car. That’s service! In the past, I might have hated on the restaurant because it can be loud and the wait can be long. But after tonight, I’m becoming Mia Francesca.

At Stage Left Theatre

3408 N. Sheffield

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Category: Katy Walsh, Rubicon Theatre Project, Stage Left Theatre

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