Review: Goodbye Cruel World (The Strange Tree Group)

| June 17, 2012 | 1 Comment

Scott Cupper as Semyon in Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse. (photo credit: Tyler Core)       
      
Goodbye Cruel World 

Adapted by Robert Ross Parker
Directed by Bob Kruse
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru July 22  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
           Read entire review
     



     
       

A lively, romping farce

     

Elizabeth Bagby, Scott Cupper, Brian Grey, Stuart Ritter, Jenifer Starewich, Joseph Stearns in Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse.

    
The Strange Tree Group presents
    
Goodbye Cruel World

Review by Katy Walsh 

My first introduction to literature with a Russian influence was ”Rocky and Bullwinkle”.  As a kid, I believed Boris and Natasha were typical Russian folks, spies without a sense of humor.  I thought Russians were a serious, cold lot that hated squirrels. Since then, I’ve decided the Soviet Union’s abilities to endure tumultuous eras makes their dispositions much more light-hearted than their American counterparts. 

Scott Cupper as Semyon in Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse. (photo credit: Tyler Core)The Strange Tree Group presents the Midwest premiere Goodbye Cruel World.

Semyon is unemployed, depressed and living in Russian government housing.  His wife, mother-in-law and the neighbors are worried about him.  What if he tries to kill himself or, worse, learns to play the tuba?  But then again would that be so bad?  Goodbye Cruel World is pure vaudeville to the tune of “Suicide is Painless.”

In 1928, Nikolai Erdman penned his satirical play “The Suicide.”  Erdman’s writing was not well-received by the Russian government and it eventually landed him in Siberia.  Playwright Robert Ross Parker adapted the satire for optimal slapstick buffoonery.  The dialogue is ongoing one liners.  The plot is over-the-top ridiculous. The orchestration is door-opening-closing burlesque.  Literally, a door in the middle of the stage is pivotal to scene set-up with clever revolving signage.  Strewn clothes lines of laundry across the stage.  The simplistic look by the design team (Delia Baseman, Bob Kruse, Kate Nawrocki, Emily Schwartz, and Michael Huey) establishes a homey but impoverished tone.  

Under the direction of Bob Kruse, the talented 6-member cast personify 27 distinct caricatures.  Kruse keeps the energy high and his cast chasing the laughs.  The comedic timing is dead on.  For a suicidal-wannabee-tuba-player, Scott Cupper (Semyon) tackles life and death with carefree merriment.  The entire ensemble works together as a tight crew. In particular, they do an ongoing shtick about who has to play the old Russian guy.  The authentic responses to the “drawing straws” decision process makes it seem almost improv-ed.  It’s hilarious!  The cast continues to morph into a variety of caricatures in delightful absurdity. A standout is Joseph Stearns with deadpan perfection.      

The summer is all about having fun. For three months, we try to shift into our childhood school break.  We turn the extended daylight hours into post-work summer vacation.        Goodbye Cruel World is a lively, romping mockery.  It’s like sipping a cold, icy Miller Lite.  It may not be a craft beer but it is less filling and tastes great. Sometimes on a hot evening, that’s all you need to amuse yourself. 

  
Rating: ★★★½
  
   

Goodbye Cruel World continues through July 22nd at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25, and are available by phone (773-975-8150) or online (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at StrangeTree.org(Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes without intermission)

Elizabeth Bagby, Scott Cupper, Brian Grey, Stuart Ritter, Jenifer Starewich, Joseph Stearns in Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse.

Photos by Tyler Core 


     

artists

cast

Elizabeth Bagby*, Scott Cupper*, Brian Grey*, Stuart Ritter*, Jenifer Starewich*, Joseph Stearns*
Live music by Marty and Sarah Scanlon

behind the scenes

Bob Kruse* (director); Delia Baseman*, Kate Nawrocki*, Emily Schwartz*, Bob Kruse* (scenic, props); Jordan Kardasz (lighting); Michael Huey (sound); Delia Baseman (costumes, production manager); Phineas X. Jones (poster design); Tyler Core (photography); Sarah Luse (asst. production manager); Elissa Shortridge (stage manager); Walter Owen Briggs (tech director)

* denotes company member 

Stuart Ritter as 25,000 mailmen in Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse. (photo credit: Tyler Core) Jenifer Starewich and Scott Cupper as Russian Gothic Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse. (photo credit: Tyler Core)
Goodbye Cruel Beard from Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World", directed by Bob Kruse. (photo credit: Tyler Core) Joe Stearns Caught Red Handed by Strange Tree Group's "Goodbye Cruel World"

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Category: 2012 Reviews, Katy Walsh, Strange Tree Group, Theater Wit

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