Review: The North Plan (Theater Wit)

| March 5, 2012
Kate Buddeke as Tanya Shepke - The North Plan, Theater Wit       
The North Plan 

Written by Jason Wells  
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru April 1  |  tickets: $24   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Jump-to-your-feet fantastic!


Tom Hickey, Kevin Stark, Will Zahrn, Brian King - North Plan, Theater Wit

Theater Wit presents
The North Plan

Review by Katy Walsh 

My family represents a microcosm of America.  We have diversity in ethnic background, economic class, religious values and political views.  Just like the United States, we are influenced by internal and external forces.  We want to follow the *good guys* but that’s not always apparent.  I remember a few Presidents back when I was ranting on about the administration’s ineptitude, my sister Christy was disgusted.  She tried to stop my tirade with the proclamation, ‘He’s our President.‘  And I retorted with a ‘Yes, and he Kate Buddeke plays Tanya Shepke, The North Plan, Theater Witanswers to me.’     

Theater Wit presents Chicago premiere of The North Plan.  In a little town in Missouri, two people are being detained in the city lock-up.  Tanya has turned herself in for drunk driving.  Carlton has been arrested for suspicious activity.  As Tanya blusters on about the injustice of her situation, Carlton tries to recruit her to help him.  Carlton works for the State Department.  He has information that could destroy an evil faction gaining power in the U.S. government.  Carlton needs Tanya to steal the evidence from the police. Is he for real?  And what can a big-mouthed, drunk do to save the day?  The North Plan proposes the anti-American hero.

Playwright Jason Wells introduced this script at the 2010 First Look Repertory of New Work at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  The plot is solid.  The characters are genuine.  The dialogue is smart.  The intrigue and absurdity is pure “Pulp Fiction.”  Under the masterful direction of Kimberly Senior, the drama and comedy both escalate into a volatile conclusion.  At the show I saw, the audience literally jumped to their feet with thunderous applause and cheering.  Although the entire talented ensemble supports the story, the unforgettable standout is Kate Buddeke (Tanya).  Buddeke goes from annoying victim to bad-ass rogue.  In between, Buddeke charms the audience with stellar comedic timing.  Buddeke is amazing! 

Kate Buddeke, Kevin Stark, Lucy Sandy - The North Plan, Theater Wit

Set Designer Jack Magaw has created a two layered look.  In the first act, the main area is the cages of the holding room.  Through the door, the office area can be seen.  For the second act, the set is flipped.  Senior stages action in both areas during both acts.  The limited visibility of the activity in the other room heightens the subterfuge.   What’s going on in there?  Lucy Sandy (Shonda) intensifies the audience’s suspicion. Sandy authentically transforms from detached to curious to defiant and the audience follows her lead. 

Because Americans have a steady diet of television, movie and real life political scandal, The North Plan is what we crave.  It’s conspiracy, comedy and control.  Who should we trust?  The North Plan is funny, scary and totally believable which makes it funnier and scarier!  

Rating: ★★★½

The North Plan continues through April 1st at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $24, and are available by phone (773-975-8150) or online here (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: one hour forty-five minutes, which includes an intermission)

Kate Buddeke and Kevin Stark - The North Plan, Theater Wit

All photos by Liz Lauren




Kate Buddeke* (Tanya Shepke); Lucy Sandy (Shonda Cox); Kevin Stark (Carlton Berg); Will Zahrn* (Chief Swenson); Tom Hickey (Dale Pittman); Brian King (Bob Lee)

behind the scenes

Kimberly Senior (director); Jack Magaw (set design); Scott Pillsbury (lighting); Elizabeth Flauto (costumes); Jenny Pinson (props); Chris Rickett (fight choreography); Dennis J. Connors* (stage manager); Jonathan Nook (production stage manager); Monica Klasa (graphics); Tara Branham, Nate Silver (asst. director); Michael Brosilow, Liz Lauren (photos)

* denotes Actors Equity member


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Category: 2012 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Theater Wit

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