Review: The Good Person of Szechwan (Cor Theatre)

| August 22, 2016

Will Von Vogt (left) plays the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, and Chris Brickhouse is Sun/Husband in Cor Theatre's The Good Person. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis          

    
The Good Person of Szechwan 

Written by Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Tony Kushner
A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells (map)
thru Sept 11  |  tix: $25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Brecht classic parable receives bold, vivacious adaptation

  

Cor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan. Also in the cast, from left: Michael Buono, Jeri Marshall, Dawn Bless and Aida Delaz. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Also pictured: Michael BuonoCredit: Matthew Gregory Hollis

    
Cor Theatre presents
    
The Good Person of Szechwan

Review by Mark Davidson

A prelude begins The Good Person of Szechwan, featuring characters interacting in their city, even mingling with audience members. The hip-hop music creates a certain ambience. Then, Wang the Waterseller (Dawn Bless) welcomes the three gods (Ben Chang, Jos N. Banks, Aida Delaz). The gods are searching for any good people on Earth. The Waterseller is unable to find a place for the three gods to stay for the night Will Von Vogt (left) plays the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, and Chris Brickhouse is Sun/Husband in Cor Theatre's The Good Person. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Credit: Matthew Gregory Hollisand flees in shame. It is Shen Te (Will Von Vogt), the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold, who gives the gods shelter for the night. When the gods leave the next morning, they reward her with an American Express card. The gods are pleased they have found at least one good person, and Shen Te is overjoyed. Three days later, Shen Te sets up a tobacco shop. She is then besieged by her “friends” who beg for money. Shen Te is now at risk of losing everything…until her cousin Shui Ta arrives. A hard man who means business, Shui Ta wheels and deals until he has established a tobacco factory, with the beggars now working for their keep.

Meanwhile, Shen Te encounters a suicidal pilot named Sun (Chris Brickhouse). Shen Te convinces Sun to live and they become lovers. But when later meeting Shui Ta, Sun inadvertently reveals that he’s not what he seems. Eventually, we’re led to a climactic trial (officiated by the three gods) where Shen Te reveals a startling secret.

Cor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt (center) plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111Credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis (from left) Isabella Karina Coelho, Michael Buono and Dawn Bless in Cor Theatre's The Good Person Szechwan. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Credit: Matthew Gregory HollisCor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt (center) plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Also pictured: Michael BuonoCredit: Matthew Gregory Hollis Chris Brickhouse is Sun/Husband and Will Von Vogt plays the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis

This production, a Tony Kushner translation of the 1943 play by Bertolt Brecht, is bold and vivacious. The casting is non-traditional, color and gender-blind. Van Vogt is moving in the lead role of Shen Te. Brickhouse provides a strong presence as Sun. The rest of the cast display versatility and energy, most of them playing two or three roles each. Director Ernie Nolan stages the action well, keeping a steady pace throughout. The musical numbers interspersed throughout the play are well-choreographed by Tosha Fowler.

The resonant production shows us the difficulty of being good in a world filled with people who care only for their own survival, with the final moments presenting a situation easily applicable in our real world. Some of the lines inevitably sound a bit awkward given the modern setting and design of this play, but the modern setting, hip-hop songs and dances, and the talented ensemble end up making The Good Person of Szechwan a memorable viewing experience.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

The Good Person of Szechwan continues through September 11th at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25 (students/industry: $10), and are available by phone (866-811-4111) or online through OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More info at CorTheatre.org(Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission)

NOTE: For adult audiences only. Contains sexual content and partial nudity.

(from left) Jos N. Banks, Aida Delaz and Ben Chang in Cor Theatre's The Good Person. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111 Credit: Matthew Gregory HollisCor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt (center), flanked here by Jeri Marshall and Michael Buono, plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111

Photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis


  

artists

cast

Will Von Vogt (Shen Te, Shui Ta), Chris Brickhouse (Sun, Husband), Dawn Bless (Wang the Waterseller), Nik Kourtis (Shu Fu, Wife), Jeri Marshall (Mrs. Shin), Lea Pascal (Mrs. Mi Tsu), Narciso Lobo (Policeman, Mrs. Yang, Unemployed), Ben Chang (God 3, Grandfather, Old Prostitute), Jos N. Banks (God 2, Sister in Law, Guard), Aida Delaz (God 1, Carpenter, Guest), Michael Buono (Nephew, Male Vocal), Isabella Karina Coelho (Niece), Ginger Leopoldo, Bernell Lassai (understudies)

behind the scenes

Ernie Nolan (director), Tony Kushner (adaptator), Meredith Morris (production stage manager), Nick Nyquist (assistant stage manager), Stefan Steberl (scenic & property designer), Alarie Hammock (costume design), Claire Chrzan (lighting design), Matt Reich (sound design), Adam Gutkin (technical director), Tony Buzutto (violence director), Tosha Fowler (production manager, movement), Erin Collins (assistant production manager), Danielle Szabo (assistant director), Elyse Cowles (associate producer, marketing), Claire Meyers (house manager), Maddie Delk, Jacob Broschart (box office), Matthew Gregory Hollis (photos)

Cor Theatre ensemble member Will Von Vogt (center) plays the title role of the good hearted prostitute, Shen Te, in Cor Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan. Ernie Nolan directs Tony Kushner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s popular parable of good and evil. Performances run through September 11, 2016 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre. Tickets and information: CorTheatre.org or (866) 811-4111Credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Category: 2016 Reviews, A Red Orchid, Adaptation, Bertolt Brecht, Cor Theatre, Mark Davidson, Tony Kushner, Video, YouTube

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