Review: Silent Theatre’s “Carnival Nocturne”

| November 21, 2009

Quirky, Murky, Malarkey

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The Silent Theatre Company presents

Carnival Nocturne

At DCA Storefront Theatre
Conceived and written by Gillian Hastings
Directed by Tonika Todorova
Thru December 20th (ticket info)

review by Katy Walsh

SilentTheatre_CarnivalNocturne_6 Words cannot express… because there are none. The Silent Theatre Company presents Carnival Nocturne, the story of a traveling circus plagued by a curse. Carnival Nocturne is the last of the three theatre company 2009 series produced by Chicago’s Department of Culture Affairs (DCA) Theatre and performed at the Store Front Theatre. The play is performed with the music accompaniment of a live band and minimal vocal narration. It’s a creative and challenging genre that is reliant on body language to convey the tale. There are no words to answer the questions that Carnival Nocturne provokes.

Gillian Hastings has conceived and written the Carnival Nocturne. One gets that there is indeed a curse, but its origin is unclear. A woman is killed in the very beginning by her husband. Why? He loves her, right? Did someone switch knives? Who? And why? Did the girl run away to join the circus? Or did she grow up with the circus? Does the Ring Master fall in love with her? What about his wife? Wait, she’s dead – or is she? Is that guy a dog? Or does he just think he’s a dog? Is this the end of the show? Though the plot is disjointed, do you go to the carnival for the story?

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Nonetheless, Carnival Nocturne has many whimsical and colorful moments. Costumes designed by Barb Staples are an explosion of vibrant imagination. It’s old school carnie with an underworld twist. Lindsey Marks and Taylor Bibat play Siamese twins. Mostly their synchronicity is flawless yet eerie. During an aerial bit, they do get out of sync and the clunkiness breaks the spell. The barker (played by Marvin Eduardo Quijada) is pure animated entertainment from his surprise entrance to his curtain pulling ending. The cat act, Flim and Flam, (played by Dean Evans and Molly Plunk) is playful antics; Evans is exceptionally expressive. Yohanna (played by SilentTheatre_CarnivalNocturne_11Rachel Rizzuto) delivers a vulnerable performance as the girl who runs away to join the circus (…or grew up with the circus?).

Clever and imaginative are the perfect words to describe this Silent Theatre Company experience. I admit that I’d probably need a to see this a few more times to completely understand the story-line. Unfortunately the program doesn’t help decipher the components of Carnival Nocturne. Without dialogue or program pictures, we’re left to guess: Who is who? What is what? What’s going on? Talk to me, Silent Theatre Company!

 

Rating: ★★

 

Aside: The quiet carnie to my right, Tom described it as quirky, murky, malarkey.

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

Preshow, Tom and I dine at South Water Kitchen (SWK) at the Hotel Monaco (225 N. Wabash). Upon arrival, I was asked if we had a reservation. It was 5:45! Luckily, they had one table available in the bar outskirts area. They must do a big theatre business, make reservations! We order up the Paso Robles Cabernet. It’s delicious and the bar menu reflects the vineyards philanthropic endeavors. SWK boasts an organic menu that brings home cooking to The Loop. It’s a little pricey. All entrees are between $25 and $35. We split a tossed green salad to start. The kitchen presents the salad on two plates. Nice touch! Our server recommends the pan roasted king salmon served with tiny pretzel dumplings. We split it. It doesn’t disappoint. Sautéed in butter, melt in your mouth delicious.

Post show, we go to my favorite bar theatre haunt, Petterinos (150 N. Dearborn). Eddie is THE bartender and the Ring Master to this bustling three-ring circus: business crowd, theatre goers and casts & crews. He pours a nice glass of red with a side of theatre gossip. The ambiance is theatre nostalgic with caricatures of actors on the walls. We are the freak show waiting to see if the cast from Adams Family makes an appearance. But its last call before you know it, the carnival ride has come to a complete stop and it’s time to leave the Big Top.

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Category: 2009 Reviews, Chicago Cultural Center, DCA Theatre, Katy Walsh, World Premier

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