A high-energy, visual smackdown!
|The Hypocrites presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
The Hypocrites presents Coriolanus. The world is at war. Territories are gained and lost by the sword. Men are fighting for power and honor. Coriolanus returns home the conquering hero. His battles were epic. His missions were practically suicidal. His wounds are fresh. He did it all for love! His love of country made him a formidable warrior. Initially, his return is celebrated in adoration. Later, the people relinquish their allegiance. They banish Coriolanus. What happens when everything you fought for is taken away from you? Coriolanus attacks with brutal force.
William Shakespeare penned a plot of continuous sword-wielding crusades. The premise is a commercial for the Marines’ core values: honor, courage, commitment. Shakespeare went to war on this play. It’s the stuff great video games are made of. He gave us glimpses at what motivates men to kill. Under the skillful cutting and direction of Geoff Button, the show is staged in a round and intimate setting. Button paces the action in front and behind the audience. Along with fight choreographer Ryan Bourque, Button makes this a high-energy, visceral smackdown. The skirmishes start organically and explode into a frenzy of limbs and body parts flailing through the air. It’s intense! Although Bourque masterfully orchestrates the hostilities within the stage parameters, (I was not quite a passive observer in this war. I kept moving my purse and toes to ensure I wasn’t accidentally drafted into this bloodbath.) It seems important to note: No audience members were harmed in the production of Coriolanus … well, at least not at my performance.
This cast is sensational. They are continually running and literally switching allegiances. The ensemble changes a shirt to play for the other side. Their energetic antics are a marvel. Button emphasizes humorous moments whenever possible. My favorite actualizations of the comedy are the *citizens*themselves, Bourque, Chris Chmelik, Luke Couzens. They hilariously morph into a variety of different roles. The trio race from scene to scene and then deliver zings with impeccable timing. In the lead, Steve O’Connell (Coriolanus) commands the stage with his arrogance and desperation. O’Connell’s complex relationship with his mother (played by deliciously smothering Donna McGough) and his nemesis (played with equal parts unyielding and tenderness by Jude Roche) provide the thought-provoking sustenance beneath the warfare. Powerful stuff! In addition, the entire show is lit to intrigue perfection by Lighting Designer Jared Moore.
Coriolanus is full-throttle, action-driven theatre. It’s like the video game “Call of Duty” but written by Shakespeare.
Coriolanus continues through April 23rd at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map), with performances Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $28, and are available by phone (773-525-5991) or online through Tix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at The-Hypocrites.com. (Free parking lot at Division & Noble. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes without intermission)
Photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis
Ryan Bolletino* (Sicinius), Lindsey Gavel* (Virgilia), Greg Hardigan* (Junius Brutus), Matt Kahler* (Cominius), Eric Leonard (Lartius), Donna McGough* (Volumnia), Rob McLean* (Menenius Agrippa), Steve O’Connell (Coriolanus), Jude Roche (Aufidius), Ryan Bourque*, Chris Chmelik, Luke Couzens (various roles)
behind the scenes
Geoff Button (director)*, Miranda Anderson (stage manager)*, William Boles (scenic designer), Jeremy Floyd (costumes), Jared Moore (lighting)+, Ryan Bourque (fight choreographer)*, Kevin O’Donnell (sound, music designer)+, Matthew Gregory Hollis (photos)