Tag: Kelli Walker

Review: In the Wake (The Comrades)

Rose Sengenberger and Alison Plott star as Ellen and Amy in In the Wake, The Comrades            
      

   

In the Wake

Written by Lisa Kron 
Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tix: $15-$20  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

August 1, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Caught (Sideshow Theatre)

Ben Chang, Ann James and Bob Kruse in Caught by Christopher Chen, Sideshow Theatre          
      

  
Caught 

Written by Christopher Chen 
at Richard Christiansen Theater
  2433 N. Lincoln Ave. (map)
thru July 3  |  tix: $20-$30  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

June 7, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Angry Fags (Pride Films and Plays)

Kevin Webb and James Nedrud star as Bennett Riggs and Cooper Harlow in Pride Films and Plays' "Angry Fags" by Topher Payne, directed by Derek Van Barham. (photo credit: Michael Courier)        
      
Angry Fags

Written by Topher Payne  
Directed by Derek Van Barham 
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 26  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

April 22, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Feast (Prop Thtr)

Prop Thtr's "The Feast" by Tony Fiorentino, directed by Brian Bell.        
      
The Feast 

Written by Tony Fiorentino
Directed by Brian Bell
at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston (map)
thru Dec 16  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

November 18, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Women (Circle Theatre)

     
Nancy Greco-Center - and the ladies of THE WOMEN The Women 

Written by Clare Booth Luce 
Directed by Jim Schneider
at Circle Theatre, Oak Park (map)
thru August 14 |  tickets: $22-$26  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets

       Read entire review

     

July 12, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Village Players)

A reverent treatment of Durang’s classic American play

 

DSC01477

 
Village Players Theater presents
 
The Marriage of Bette and Boo
 
by Christopher Durang
Directed by
Dan Taube
at
Village Players Theater, 1010 W. Madison, Oak Park (map)
through June 27  tickets: $20-$25  |  more info

reviewed by Aggie Hewitt

Oak Park’s Village Players Theater is closing out it’s season of “New American Classics” with The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Christopher Durang’s 1985 tragicomedy about a son reliving the painful memories of his parents marriage. Known for being a personal and autobiographical work, The Marriage of Bette and Boo is so popular for it’s sharp black humor and piercingly intense characters that it’s  become almost cliché. It’s the source of the “lost babies” monologue, a piece so rich with nuance, depth and wit that it’s made its way onto “do not use” list of many acting classes because of overuse.

DSC01487It’s no wonder that actors are drawn to Durang’s work. Bette and Boo has amazing characters, from Emily, the neurotic aunt who is full of self loathing and eagerness to apologize for transgressions she hasn’t committed – played by funny and energetic Megan E. Brown, to the hilariously contemptible priest, who’s just so over having to help his stupid parishioners (Dennis Schnell, whose priest monologue is a show stopper, on the night I saw him it received applause).

With a talented cast and a winning play, there was little director Dan Taube could have done to mess this production up and in fact, he enhanced it. Taube brings out the sadness in this work, lifting the veil of levity in every scene. Although it is a fast passed play, Taube does not shy away from taking time when it is needed to shine a spotlight on an emotional moment. Dan Taube’s direction is the invisible kind: one doesn’t really notice any direction at all, only the story that he has facilitated.

25 years after it was written, The Marriage of Bette and Boo is still a challenging piece of theater. The manic style in which it is written, and the darkness of its subject matter, make it at times difficult to watch. It also feels, well, dated. In 2010 it is no longer en vogue to deliver highly academic, sardonically funny monologues about how much one hates one’s parents (unfortunately). Stephanie Sullivan is an unsympathetic Bette, leaving one to feel that this play might just be a two-and-a-half hour long complaint about Christopher Durang’s mother. Sullivan is a strong actress, and when she is able to find moments of humanity in Bette, they are poignant and lovely (most notably in the aforementioned “lost babies” monologue) but the character – a mother who relentlessly demands to be impregnated, only to drag her family through hell with still births again and again – is as hard for the audience to love as it is for her narrating son.

Modern audiences might feel as if they are watching a very 1980’s dramady with this production, which is extremely well done but does little to innovate or modernize this “new American classic.” Most notably, the set, designed by Annette Vargas, has a super 1980’s feel. Three tall panels are designed with a brightly-colored square pattern that looks like neon stained glass. It’s pretty, and old fashioned looking, and yet somehow it works.

This Village Player’s stuck-in-the-past production is fitting – how for a play about remorse, loss and memory. How something like The Marriage of Bette and Boo could be contemporized would be a challenge. The play seems destined to stay in the 1980’s, to remain a living monument to the year of its creation. Whether or not Dan Taube is correct when he says, “One day people will look at Durang’s body of work and the innovation and the vision and put him in a class with American masters like O’Neill and Williams,” this production, presented with the loyalty and reverence of a period piece, surely supports that hypothesis.

 
 
Rating: ★★★
 
 

BetteBooweb

May 18, 2010 | 0 Comments More

Review: Piccolo Theatre’s “Black Comedy”

Precision, passion still needed in “Black Comedy”

Black Comedy

Piccolo Theatre presents:

Black Comedy
by Peter Shaffer
directed by P. Marston Sullivan
thru October 31st (buy tickets)

reviewed by Paige Listerud

If timing is everything in comedy, then that is true in spades for Peter Shaffer’s comic staple Black Comedy, onstage now at Piccolo Theatre, directed by Peter Sullivan. Written in the 1960s, this outrageous British sex farce requires broad physical comedy blended with exquisite timing to work. Pity the cast that has not had substantial experience or training in that area. Their efforts truly are a lot of flailing around in the dark.

Black Comedy That’s too bad, because this cast definitely displays the energy for it. Brindsley (Adam Kander) is a young, struggling artist about to privately show his work at his apartment to a mysterious millionaire, Mr. Bamberger (David W. M. Kelch), who could make his fortune. The sale of his work is also meant to placate his potential father-in-law, Colonel Melkert (Andrew J. Pond), into letting him marry his poncy fiancé Carol (Liz Larsen-Silva). With Carol and Brindsley redecorating his bare flat with the posh antique furniture “borrowed” from next-door neighbor Harold (Brian Kilborn), their plans for a successful showing are ruined by a blown fuse and Harold’s early return from his weekend away in the country.

In the role of Brindsley, Kander does the yeoman’s job, in that his character must move all the furniture back to Harold’s apartment in the dark out from under everyone’s nose . . . or arse . . . or something. This is where the majority of the physical comedy takes place. Not a role for the faint of heart–or an actor without the skills of someone like Jim Carrey. What is more, Kander’s interpretation lacks the mischievousness that would make his character think that he could pull this whole thing off in the first place. Brindsley must be something more than just a desperate loser; he’s a desperate loser who thinks he can win.

Sullivan’s staging delivers some good bits, but without the requisite skills to execute them, it’s like watching the cast paint by the numbers. Spontaneity and surprise vanish into thin air.

Under-training plagues the whole production; even the dialect needs more consistency throughout the entire cast. Comic timing also goes missing in the preliminary sketches taken from British comedy favorites. It’s tough to tell a production to go back to the drawing board, but there it is.

Little moments of characterization are enjoyable: Liz Larsen-Silva is delightfully annoying as the spoiled Colonel’s daughter. Kelli Walker’s Ms. Furnival would probably writhe her way out of her clothing eventually, alcohol or not. Sandy Elias’ role as Schuppanzigh adds some badly needed, earthy humanism. The cast is certainly proficient in developing their roles. Would that their skill set had expanded sufficiently to pull off this monstrously demanding comedy.

Rating: «½

 

September 20, 2009 | 0 Comments More