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Pondering politics and people through an artist’s eyes
|Firecat Projects presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
“You can hang on the cross or you can pound in the nails!’ A recovering Catholic, Tony Fitzpatrick ponders over politics and people. Firecat presents Stations Lost. Fitzpatrick is an artist. A poet. A painter. A storyteller. A stand-up comedian. His show embodies the term ‘performing art.’ On the right, a musician and a vocalist provide the soundtrack. On the left, a film screen illustrates an extensive art collection. In the center, Tony is the colorful showpiece. It’s all about him! Stations Lost engages as a multi-media journey to enlightenment.
Fitzpatrick is a big personality and a natural entertainer. This show doesn’t seem like an act. It feels like being invited into Tony’s home for a vacation slide show. Fitzpatrick shares his recollections of recent trips to Turkey and cross-country USA. It’s personal, with vivid verbal imagery (e.g., Fitzpatrick smoking while back-floating). With a gift for the gab and well-crafted words, Fitzpatrick places the audience poolside. The stories are reinforced with video art designed by Kristin Reeves. Most of the film footage is Fitzpatrick’s creations. Fitzpatrick tells the story of a Turkish suicide bomber. Following his remembrance, the audience sees the art it inspired. The projection of “Angel expires in a glass of rain” flashes on the screen. It’s a powerful in-the-head-of-an-artist experience. These moments of insight are mingled in with playful road trip stories. A lesson learned at Red Roof Inn results in the directive; “Don’t ever go lower than a Hampton Inn because they let the Who-ha’s in!” His business partner, driver and friend, Stan Klein joins Fitzpatrick to simulate the trip. Klein is an interesting sidekick to Fitzpatrick’s stories and life. Throughout the show, Fitzpatrick credits Klein for “keeping me inside the lines.”
In the program, adaptor and director Ann Filmer also credits Klein for ‘keeping us on track.’ Trying to contain Fitzpatrick’s zealous passions has to be a team effort. Filmer masterfully streamlines the bounty of impressions into a free-flowing production. Filmer keeps it contained but organic. Filmer creates a platform with plenty of room for Fitzpatrick to work his craft. Besides the projections, live music also accompanies the artistry. Lynne Jordan (vocalist) and John Rice (guitar, oud, violin, Musical Director) add another cultural layer. Jordan’s strong soulful singing makes a lasting impression.
I saw the prequel, This Train by Tony Fitzpatrick last summer. Same multimedia style. Same director. Same sidekick. What’s different? Fitzpatrick! Sure, he has new stories to express his liberal, political views. But, there is something more. The blustery, talented Fitzpatrick found his faith in Turkey, his better self. Stations Lost has a surprising, underlying spiritual dimension. I’m looking forward to visiting Fitzpatrick next year to hear the next part of the journey.
Stations Lost continues through July 24th at the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted, with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8:30pm and Sundays at 7pm. Tickets are $22, and can be purchase by phone (312-335-1650) or from Steppenwolf’s website. Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes with one intermission. More information at steppenwolf.org.
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