Tag: Jamie Vann

Review: The Night Season (Strawdog Theatre)

Janice O'Neill and John Henry Roberts star as Lily and John in The Night Season, Strawdog Theatre           
      

  

The Night Season

Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map)
thru June 24  |  tix: $30  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

June 5, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Once in a Lifetime (Strawdog Theatre)

Scott Danielson and Kat McDonnell in Once in a Lifetime          
 

         
Once in a Lifetime 

By George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru June 11  |  tix: $28-$30   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

May 22, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog Theatre)

Dave Belden and James Vann star in Strawdog Theatre's "Charles Ives Take Me Home" by Jessica Dickey, directed by Keira Fromm. (photo credit: Chris Ocken)        
      
Charles Ives Take Me Home

Written by Jessica Dickey 
Directed by Keira Fromm 
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru June 21  |  tickets: $28   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

May 28, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pontypool (Strawdog Theatre)

Jamie Vann stars as Grant Mazzy in Strawdog Theatre's "Pontypool" by Tony Burgess, directed by Anderson Lawfer. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)       
      
Pontypool 

Adapted by Tony Burgess 
Directed by Anderson Lawfer
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru Feb 1  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

January 12, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pontypool (Strawdog Theatre)

Jamie Vann, as Mazzy, stars in Strawdog Theatre Hugen Hall's "Pontypool" by Tony Burgess, directed by Anderson Lawfer. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
       
Pontypool 

Written and Adapted by Tony Burgess   
Directed by Anderson Lawfer  
Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru Nov 4  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

October 18, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: The Petrified Forest (Strawdog Theatre)

(L to R):Shane Kenyon, Caroline Neff, Adam Shalzi, Jamie Vann, and John Moran.       
      
The Petrified Forest 

Written by Robert E. Sherwood 
Directed by Shade Murray
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
thru March 31  |  tickets: $28   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
      
         
        Read entire review
     

March 1, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Ghost Is Here (Vitalist Theatre)

Hank Hilbert, Dwight Sora, Eliza Shin and John B. Leen in Vitalist Theatre’s “The Ghost is Here”. Photo by John W. Sisson, Jr.       
      
The Ghost Is Here 

Written by Kōbō Abe 
Translation by Donald Keene 
Directed by Jaclynn Jutting  
DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru Feb 19  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
           Read entire review
     

January 15, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Conquest of the South Pole (Strawdog Theatre)

  
  

The Ultimate Downer

  
  

Tom Hickey, Michael Dailey, John Ferrick in Strawdog Theatre's 'The Conquest of the South Pole'. Photo by Chris Ocken

  
Strawdog Theatre presents
  
The Conquest of the South Pole
   
Written by Manfred Karge
Directed by Kimberly Senior
at Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway (map)
through May 28  |  tickets: $20  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

The title suggests a sprawling epic, not this intriguing 90-minute allegorical comedy by German playwright Manfred Karge (a Brecht protege who has worked for the Berliner Ensemble). A richly surreal trove, The Conquest of the South Pole is an action portrait of four unemployed workers who, vaguely sensing they’ve lost their usefulness, pass their time recreating Amundsen’s 1911 expedition to the bottom of the earth.

Strawdog Theatre presents 'The Conquest of the South Pole' by Manfred Karge and directed by Kimberly Senior.With no glory to seek themselves, they ape a long-gone fame. (It beats playing pinball, swilling schnapps or pretending that they’re force-feeding political prisoners.) This borrowed lusters is one of many pungent ironies archly detailed in Kimberly Senior’s staging for Strawdog Theatre.

Mired in the dying industrial town of Herne, the twentysomethings congregate on their crowded tenement rooftop (evoked by Jack Magaw in a sparely neutral dormer set design). Their make-believe offers them a refuge from the bleak life of the Ruhr valley. (Envying the boredom of "unemployed millionaires," one worker comments: "They don’t even want to work. I want to, and I can’t!") Well, they’re not attacking immigrant workers like so many German skinheads.

But, far from offering an escape, their ritualized polar saga perversely mirrors their own dark plight and it’s easier to connect with Scott’s doomed expedition than Amundsen’s successful one.

Led by gruff Slupianek (Jamie Vann), the crew–skeptical Buscher (John Ferrick), mysterious Seiffert (Michael Dailey) and very married Braukmann (Tom Hickey)–are joined by the dimwitted but doglike Frankieboy (Joel Ewing), as they meticulously recreate the Norwegian’s race to the Pole, scrounging around for antarctic-ish costumes, using a laundry line as an icy landscape, rappelling across the stage, breaking into song and dance.

Inevitably the fantasy must be paid for or, as they put it, "Watch out for crevasses." Sexually confident even if strapped for funds, Slupianek seduces Brauckmann’s wife (Jennifer Avery), who’s furious that their boyish “monkey games” are keeping her husband from going to work.  Buscher almost derails the pageant by demanding that they enact Scott’s doomed expedition, a reflection of failure a lot closer to their own.

Oddly, the event that renews their ardor to resume their "play" is an ugly encounter with Rudi (Anderson Lawfer), a boorish and fatuous Hitler lover and his divorced trull Rosi (Justine C. Turner); nothing could be worse than his idea of fascist pleasure.

When they finally "reach" the Pole, it’s a glorious, redeeming moment, followed all too quickly by the inevitable let-down (even a suicide). Clearly art was not enough.

In its pell-mell energy and kinetic stage pictures ”Conquest” strongly recalls past Chicago productions of English plays about bored and wasted youth–Road, Stags and Hens, Bouncers, (It also resembles Marat/Sade in its inspired yoking of an historical event with a dysfunctional present.) What’s unique to Karge’s 1986 work is the depiction of untapped ingenuity; in the desperation of the men’s elaborate theatrics, midlife crises and frenetic male-bonding, you taste the loss of so much thwarted art, squandered by hard times and bad luck.

With a translation by Calvin McLean, Caron Cadle and Ralf Remshardt, the script is a volatile mix of cascading street poetry, no-nonsense confessionals, and the rigid, haunting prose of the original antarctic journals.

Unfortunately, this revival is much less thrilling than the play’s first Chicago production in 1992 by the late Famous Door Theatre. The Strawdog stage just isn’t big enough for the men to take real risks in recreating their polar hero journey. The script’s adventurous aspects get short shrift and we’re left with undiluted desperation.

  
   
Rating: ★★★
  
  
April 25, 2011 | 0 Comments More