Tag: Jordan Fleming

Review: Mutt (Stage Left Theatre and Red Tape Theatre)

Michael Reyes and Daniel Smith star in Stage Left and Red Tape Theatre's "Mutt" by Christopher Chen, directed by Vanessa Stalling. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)         
      
      
Mutt

Written by Christopher Chen 
Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru Feb 14  |  tix: $15-$30   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

January 15, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Boy from Oz (Pride Films and Plays)

Chris Logan stars as Peter Allen in Pride Films and Plays' "The Boy From Oz" by Peter Allen, Martin Sherman and Nick Enright , directed by David Zak. (photo courtesy of PF&P)   

           
The Boy from Oz 

Written by Peter Allen (music, lyrics),
  Martin Sherman, Nick Enright (book) 
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Aug 30 | tickets: $25-$40  | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

August 17, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Tea and Sympathy (The Artistic Home)

Al (Nick Horst) and Steve (CJ Langsdon) take in the sights as Tom Lee (Andrew Cutler) looks on       
      
Tea and Sympathy 

Written by Robert Anderson  
Directed by David New 
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru April 22  |  tickets: $20-$32   |   more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

March 21, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Copperhead (City Lit Theater)

   
  

This ‘copperhead’ is worth every penny

 
 

The Copperhead - City Lit Theatre Chicago

  
City Lit Theater presents
 
The Copperhead
  
Written by Augustus Thomas
Directed by Kathy Scambiattera
at City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
through May 15  |  tickets: $18-$25  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

While Chekhov was over in Russia writing about social upheaval, Augustus Thomas was stateside dipping into the American experience and crafting similar pieces of realism. The demise of the old aristocracy inspired Chekhov; Reconstruction and the economic decimation of the South following the Civil War instigated Thomas’ plays. Once proclaimed as the best playwright in the nation, Thomas has faded into obscurity over the last century. Watching City Lit Theater’s solid production of his most successful play, 1918’s The Copperhead, I was struck by how well-wrought Thomas’ style seems even today. Maybe director Kathy Scambiatterra’s show will kickstart interest in one of America’s original voices.

The Copperhead - City Lit Theatre Chicago 2The Copperhead is part of City Lit’s “Civil War Project,” a five-year theatrical exploration of the Civil War. Thomas sets his drama in southern Illinois, close to the border of the Confederacy. The play centers around Milt Shanks (Mark Pracht), a Southern sympathizer, claiming he wants peace above all else. In the Land of Lincoln, that doesn’t go down well. He earns the ire of his family and community, even going to prison for his murky connections to the Rebel cause. The second half of the play is set 40 years after Appomattox, and the beliefs Shanks’ held during the war are still affecting him and his descendants.

Unlike many of his peers, Thomas completely shuns melodrama. There’s a subtle pressure and conflict that flows throughout the play. Social roles and appearances run the world, just like with Ibsen or Strindberg. What people believe is as important as what people do.

Scambiatterra elicits great performances from her strappy cast. Pracht does a fine job with the austere Shanks, remaining strong and level, while still revealing glimpses of vulnerability – we know he is still a human being in a crazy situation. The real gem in the production is Kate Tummelson, who plays Shanks’ wife in the first half and his devoted granddaughter in the second. She really drives every scene she is a part of, scrounging up independence in a time where there was very little to be had for women. As Ma Shanks, she is torn by her devotion to her son, her husband, and her country. As Madeline, she has to look out for her grandfather and her own future. Another great performance is given by Judith Hoppe as the high-spirited Grandma Pearly, who constantly talks about how war takes a toll on women.

Thomas’ writing holds up surprisingly well. Scambiaterra finds loads of humor in the script—Pracht as the older Milt mines plenty of elderly jokes. And the cast finds layers with every character; there are unspoken ethos guiding every actor on stage.

The plays runs along pretty well, but the ending ties the show together a bit too neatly. It becomes like some sort of 19th-century James Bond flick. I was hoping for something more like Chekhov, where the house lights come up leaving the audience with unanswered questions and some moral ambiguity. But Thomas taps into good ol’ American sentimentality, breaking apart complexities he spends four acts building up.

City Lit brings an honest, down-the-line approach to the script. The Copperhead can feel a bit archaic, but never wooden. It’s great to see such an old play with a local connection being done here. Thomas will never have the name recognition or acclaim of Chekhov, and he seems afraid to dive as deep into darker territory. However, his play remains relevant to any culture familiar with war. The Civil War Project is a fascinating idea, and I hope they can keep churning out work like this.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

The Copperhead poster - City Lit Theater Chicago

  
  
April 20, 2011 | 0 Comments More