Tag: Brennan Stacker

Review: The Book of Joseph (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

Francis Guinan and Sean Fortunato star as Richard Hollander and Joseph in The Book of Joseph, Chicago Shakes           
      
  

The Book of Joseph

Written by Karen Hartman 
Chicago Shakespeare, Navy Pier (map)
thru March 5  |  tix: $48-$58  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets
     

February 26, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Russian Transport (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Mariann Mayberry and Alan Wilder star in Steppenwolf Theatre's "Russian Transport" by Erika Sheffer, directed by Yasen Peyankov. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Russian Transport

Written by Erika Sheffer  
Directed by Yasen Peyankov
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru May 11  |  tickets: $55-$78   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 12, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Winter Pageant (Redmoon Theatre, 2013)

Yana Atim stars in Redmoon Theatre's "Winter Pageant," directed by John Musical with Will Bishop, choreographed by Pranita Jain. (photo credit: Al Zayed)        
      

Winter Pageant

Directed by John Musial with Will Bishop
Choreographed by Pranita Jain
at Redmoon, 2120 S. Jefferson (map)
thru Dec 22  |  tickets: $10-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review 

December 18, 2013 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Under Construction (Jackalope Theatre)

   
  

Finding meaning from life’s little knick knacks

 
 

Under Construction - Jackalope Theatre Co. - L to R - Brenann Stacker, Christopher Meister, & Dan Conway

    
Jackalope Theatre presents their adaption of
   
Under Construction
   
Written by Charles Mee
Directed by
AJ Ware
at
The Artistic Home, 3914 N. Clark (map)
through Dec 19   |  tickets: $15   |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Step onto the set of Under Construction and you immediately suppose that you’re about to witness the typical family melodrama.  Audience seating is minimal; right onstage with the players in Jackalope Theatre’s intensely intimate adaptation of Charles Mee’s original play (adapted by Andrew Burden Swanson, Melanie Berner and AJ Ware, who also directs).  But the usual Thanksgiving gathering serves up a platter of multicolored feathers, glasses stuffed with random textiles to suggest different kinds of beverages, dinner rolls cut out of memory foam and candles on the table crafted from colored pencils.  This is not a “real” Thanksgiving but a creation, a re-creation based on fallible and impressionistic memory. 

Under Construction - Jackalope Theatre Co. - L to R - Dan Conway, & Brenann StackerBoth the memory and its recreation belong to Abbey (Brenann Stacker), an artist who creates sculptures from found objects, the detritus of knick-knacks that survive us.  What Abbey tries to reconstruct is her relationship with her father Sam (Christopher Meister), a prickly man at war with himself in his staid role as family breadwinner and working class Joe.  Continuously frustrated, he cannot help taking it out on his family.  Not a model dad, Sam eventually leaves his family, which also includes son Jack (Dan Conway) and wife Emily (Mary Jo Bolduc).

Reconciling her feelings after her father passes away becomes the driving force in Abbey’s work, as well as her livestream conversations with her brother Jack, who wonders himself just how much he is turning into his father.  Under Construction jumps around between present events and Abbey’s continually revised and reconstructed past.  This structural element to the play has its pay-offs, but also sacrifices continuity, which probably is the point.  Uncertainty purposefully suffuses past events.  But the play’s transitional demands make the actors start cold with some scenes and that sort of emotional scramble makes its demands on the audience as well.  Nevertheless, both Stacker and Meister expertly render some very hard-boiled truths—she, about the barren depths of an artist’s creative malaise and he, about the life-draining impact of a man’s labor exploited under capitalism.

Jackalope’s production also does an excellent job of taking Mee’s pastiche of 1950’s social etiquette books and father/daughter scenes from “To Kill a Mockingbird” and replaying them with totally transformed impact between the characters themselves.  Family may indeed be a replay of scripts handed to us from a variety of comforting and familiar sources, but that replay’s actual outcome might not comfort or reassure like some safe and predictable “Father Knows Best” scenario.  Sam does not know what to make of his life and Abbey has a hard time knowing what to make of their relationship once he is gone.

Under Construction - Jackalope Theatre Co. - L to R - Christopher Meister, Dan Conway, & Brenann StackerIn the context of uncertainty, forgiveness becomes a creational act.  Gently conveying this well are the actors cast as the grandparents, Sophia (Margaret Kustermann) and Henry (Jim Schutter).  Even as bit parts, they provide the foundation for this family. 

If there is a weak point to Under Construction, it’s the role of Emily, who for the most part gets pigeonholed as a long-suffering wife with little room for nuance or variation.  Here is another character that needs some process of forgiveness.  If she has any, it goes mysteriously and failingly silent.  Abbey, at least, has her work—an art form wherein she can take the scraps of what’s left of a life or a relationship and make it into something with meaning.  It’s what we do with the detritus left behind, after all, that truly matters.    

   
   
Rating: ★★★
   
   

UC 11x17 FULL                      

     
     
December 3, 2010 | 0 Comments More