Tag: Kristina Valada-Viars

Review: The Source (Route 66 Theatre)

Cody Proctor and Kristina Valada-Viars star in The Source by Gabriel McKinley, Route 66 Theatre 4            
       
  

The Source

Written by Gabe McKinley
at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru April 2  |  tix: $35  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

March 21, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Burials (Steppenwolf for Young Adults)

Olivia Cygan and Becca Savoy star as Sophie and Chloe in The Burials, Steppenwolf for Young Adults           
      
 

The Burials

Written by Caitlin Parrish 
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Oct 22  |  tix: $20  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

October 11, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre, 2015)

Travis Knight and Larry Yando star in Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, adapted by Tom Creamer, directed by Henry Wishcamper. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)         
      
A Christmas Carol 

Adapted by Tom Creamer
From novel by Charles Dickens
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn  (map)
thru Dec 27  |  tix: $25-$102  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

November 26, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Great God Pan (Next Theatre)

James Leaming and Brett Schneider star in Next Theatre's "The Great God Pan" by Amy Herzog, directed by Kimberly Senior. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
The Great God Pan

Written by Amy Herzog
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
at Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston (map)
thru May 11  |  tickets: $30-$45   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

April 13, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Rasheeda Speaking (Rivendell Theatre)

Eric Slater and Ora Jones star in Rivendell Theatre's "Rasheeda Speaking" by Joel Drake Johnson, directed by Sandy Shinner. (photo credit: Joe Mazza / Brave Lux)        
      
Rasheeda Speaking

Written by Joel Drake Johnson
Directed by Sandy Shinner
at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge (map)
thru Feb 15  |  tickets: $30   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Completeness (Theater Wit)

Matt Holzfeind plays Elliott and Kristina Valada-Viars is Molly in Theater Wit’s Midwest premiere of "Completeness" by Itamar Moses, directed by Jeremy Wechsler. (photo credit: Charles Osgood)        
      
Completeness

Written by Itamar Moses
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 24  |  tickets: $18-$36   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

February 21, 2013 | 1 Comment More

Review: Time Stands Still (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Randall Newsome as James and ensemble member Sally Murphy as Sarah in Steppenwolf Theatre's "Time Stands Still" by Donald Margulies. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)       
      
Time Stands Still 

Written by Donald Margulies
Directed by Austin Pendleton
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru May 13  |  tickets: $20-$78   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

February 2, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Pony (About Face Theatre)

  
  

Brilliant, fully-committed cast can’t bridle Bruchner’s ‘Pony’

  
  

Kristina Valada-Viars (Marie) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

  
About Face Theatre presents
  
Pony
  
Written by Sylvan Oswald
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
through May 22  |  tickets: $21-$28  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel 

Woyzeck was left unfinished when its author Georg Buchner died of typhus at the tender age of twenty-three in 1836. Buchner’s bleak depiction of working class life touched a nerve in 19th Century Germany. Since then, plenty of artists have taken it upon themselves to finish, adapt, and tweak the original, including composer Alban Berg and filmmaker Werner Herzog. Lucky for us, the Chicago theatre community is putting on a Woyzeck smorgasbord this spring, with plenty of chances to see new spins on the story. Oracle Theatre  and the Hypocrites have put on somewhat straightforward versions of the play, but About Face decided to move further away from the Buchner with Pony by Sylvan Oswald.

Kristina Valada-Viars (Marie) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.Superbly acted and wonderfully designed, I wished that Oswald had stuck closer to the primary source or had ventured further away. What director Bonnie Metzgar ends up with is a derivative tale that is usually engrossing and often funny, but doesn’t really make much sense.

While Buchner was writing about the proletariat, Oswald is writing about gender identification. Every character in the play is either transgendered or interested in one, including Oswald’s stand-in for Woyzeck, Pony (Kelli Simpkins). Added to his woes about money and love, Pony must also deal with being outted in a potentially hostile community.

Pony takes place in the town across the forest from Woyzeck’s world. Instead of Industrial-age Germany, though, Pony’s world looks like a grimy Pennsylvania coal mining town of the 1980s. Everyone is covered in grit and everyone is poor.

Pony rides into town and instantly falls for Marie (Kristina Valada-Viars), a waitress obsessed with the murder that happened on the other side of the woods to a certain other Marie. Marie’s best friend Stel (Jessica Hudson) warns Pony that he better stay out of Marie’s life, which the audience learns is because she also secretly pines for Marie. Looking out for Pony’s well-being is Cav (Janet Ulrich Brooks), an old-school lesbian and the only scientist in town. And while Pony is courting Marie, Heath (Matthew Sherbach) is searching for Pony, laden with family secrets.

Pony is clearly inspired by Woyzeck, but the play goes off on Oswald’s own tangents. Instead of force-feeding peas, Cav subjects Pony to psychological evaluations. Marie ponders how a man can reach the desperation needed to kill the one thing in the world he loves—pretty much the question Buchner sets out to answer in his play. And Pony, like the other titular character, finds himself battered by society. Unfortunately, Oswald is unable to tie these themes together and the play feels more like a musing on the original than its own entity. Pony has difficulty finding a job and is devastated when he finds himself robbed, but he never reaches the utter anguish of Woyzeck. The romance between Pony and Marie is budding, not self-destructing. Oswald doesn’t reach the lower-class rage of Buchner and Pony doesn’t have its inspiration’s weight. By the end, the plot unravels into confusion. The final scene is especially tepid.

The brilliant, fully-committed cast, however, does what they can to keep the story alive. Brooks grabs the audience attention and pulls us along wherever she goes. Simpkins carries the show well, bursting with anger or sheepishly talking to Marie, whatever the script requires. Sherbach, besides some overuse of his hands, adds a great, humorous balance to the mix.

Many of the modern adaptations of Woyzeck, like Collaboraction’s Guinea Pig Solo, focus on the militaristic aspects of the play. About Face takes a different route with taking a hard look at the personal side. But without Metzgar’s awesome cast, the play would fall apart.

  
  
Rating: ★★½
  
  

Matthew Sherbach (Heath) and Kelli Simpkins (Pony) in About Face Theatre’s production of PONY by Sylvan Oswald, directed by Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar.  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

All photos by Michael Brosilow 

April 27, 2011 | 0 Comments More