Tag: Letitia Guillaud

Review: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Broadway Playhouse, 2016)

Jason Goff, Charlie Brown Christmas, Emerald City Theatre, Broadway in Chciago           
      
  

A Charlie Brown Christmas 

Written by Charles M. Schulz
Adapted for stage by Eric Schaeffer
Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut (map)
thru Jan 8  |  tix: $16-$32  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

November 16, 2016 | 1 Comment More

Review: Hack/Slash (Strangeloop Theatre and Chemically Imbalanced Comedy)

Jean E. Burr stars in "Hack/Slash," adapted from the Tim Seeley comics series, directed by Brad Gunter. (co-produced by Strangeloop Theatre and Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, photo credit: Austin D. Oie)        
      
Hack/Slash

Based on comic book by Tim Seeley 
Directed by Brad Gunter
Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1422 W. Irving (map)
thru Nov 1  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
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October 26, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Robbers (Strangeloop Theatre)

Ticha Guillaud and Holly Robison star in Strangeloop Theatre's "The Robbers" by Friedrich Schiller, directed by Brad Gunter. (photo credit: Austin D. Oie)        
       
The Robbers 

Written by Friedrich Schiller
Directed by Brad Gunter
Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis (map)
thru May 26  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
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May 15, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: The North Star (Chemically Imbalanced Comedy)

Leslie Zang as Brooke in Chemically Imbalanced Comedy's "The North Star" by Anthony Ellison, directed by Letitia Guillaud.        
       
The North Star 

Written by Anthony Ellison
Directed by Letitia Guillaud
Chemically Imbalanced Theater (map)
thru Oct 13  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
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September 14, 2012 | 2 Comments More

Review: As You Like It (Strangeloop Theatre)

Peter Robards, as Touchstone, in Strangeloop Theatre's "As You Like It - A New Adaptation", adapted by Letitia Guilland. (photo credit: Genevieve Sauvage)       
      
As You Like It
     (A New Adaptation)
 

Written by  William Shakespeare
Adapted by Letitia Guilland   
Directed by Brad Gunter
at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland (map)
thru May 6  |  tickets: $10-$15   |  more info
       
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April 8, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Strangers and Romance (Strangeloop Theatre)

     
Stacie Barra Tournis, Timothy C. Amos - Strangeloop Strangers and Romance 

Written by Barbara Lhota 
Directed by Doug Long
at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland (map)
thru Sept 18  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 

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August 21, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Maid of Orleans (Strangeloop Theatre)

  
  

Strangeloop’s ‘Maid’ not strange enough

  
  

A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller.

  
Strangeloop Theatre presents
   
  
The Maid of Orleans
   
     

Written by Friedrich Schiller
Directed by Bradley Gunter
at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland (map)
through May 29  |  tickets: $5-$15  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

In the centuries since her fiery demise in 1430, the story of Joan of Arc has inspired volumes of plays. Shakespeare paints an unflattering picture of the girl in part 1 of Henry VI, seeing her as a scheming enemy of the English. Probably the most influential depiction of Joan (while not the most accurate) is Friedrich Schiller’s The Maid of Orleans, written a little over two hundred years ago. He dramatizes almost her entire life, from her shepherding origins to her death on the battlefield (I suppose burning someone at the stack was too hard to stage). His five act play inspired operas by Verdi and Tchaikovsky as well as a slew of films. Schiller is a major force in shaping Joan the cultural icon as we think of her today.

A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller.With such a strong German history in Chicago, I’m always a little surprise the Teutonic greats don’t see more stage time. We have streets named after Schiller and Goethe. There’s a Buchner love-fest going on right now, and Brecht pops up every season (as he should)—but the Continent’s answers to the Bard are oft ignored.

Not by Strangeloop Theatre, who cram Joan’s epic venture onto the Trap Door stage stage. And they go balls to the wall, using a 1840s translation and avoiding flourishes. However, it’s an arduous, creaky journey, with brief moments of excitement punctuating long spats of monotony.

I left yearning for some unifying concept, something that would make Schiller’s ode more relevant. But director Bradley Gunter doesn’t bring much to the table, which is a shame because Joan’s story is so moldable and Schiller’s script so rich. Gunter puts up a very sobering production, one bordering on stale. They end up with a museum exhibit on their hands.

A lot of the problem is due to Anna Swanwick’s dusty translation. It’s in the public domain, I get it. But that also means you can change it up, zap it with modern sensibilities. Strangeloop could’ve taken a tip from the Woyzeck Festival and put up an adaptation, probably coming up with something much more zesty. In order to ask an audience to sit through a two and a half hour ordeal, a production needs more conviction. The audience deserves more effort than those that conjured up this production put forth.

     
A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller.q A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller.
A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller. A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything noteworthy about Strangeloop’s creation. If you really, really crave Schiller or the Joan of Arc story, it’s worth a peek. And the swordplay, crafted by Libby Beyreis, adds much needed jolts of excitement.

In general, it’s a well-acted play, even if many of the supporting performances seem as stiff as the translation. Letitia Guilaud’s wide-eyed Johanna (Joan) is a joy, kicking loads of butt for France. She bobbles in more vulnerable scenes, especially one moment where she awkwardly sings to the audience. Yet Guilaud is petit and ferocious, all that we want Joan to be. Paul Tinsley takes great relish in playing the English scoundrel Talbot, and we feel it in the house. One of my favorite performances was Jodi Kingsley’s Queen Isabel, who sides with the English against her native France. She grips onto the language with grace, making the text oddly modern. It’s what the rest of the production aspires to be.

The production values are too simple to work well, especially costumer D.J. Reed’s decision to put everyone in modern dress. Nothing else feels modern, so the shirts and ties feel like a cheap and easy substitute for real period dress. Quite simply, Gunter’s vision lacks innovation. Joan was leading whole armies as an uneducated teenager. We at least owe her some creativity.

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

The cast from Strangeloop Theatre's production of "The Maid of Orleans" by Friedrich Schiller

     
     
May 12, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: The Sound of the Yellow Flower (Strangeloop)

 

Characters fail to connect in Belarus drama

 

A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's "The Sound of the Yellow Flower"

   
Strangeloop Theatre presents
  
The Sound of a Yellow Flower
  
Written by Dustin Spence
Directed by
Letitia Guillaud
at
Trap Door Theatre, 1655 N. Cortland (map)
thorugh October 3rd |  tickets: $15  |  more info

Reviewed by Oliver Sava

Dustin Spence’s The Sound of a Yellow Flower revolves around four characters in post-Soviet Union Belarus looking for liberty, justice, and love in their unstable country. Years after violinist Sasha (Rich Logan) and military colonel Nikolai (Mark A scene from Strangeloop Theatre's "The Sound of the Yellow Flower"Pracht) help usher in an era of independence for Belarus, they are faced with the question of what comes next. Nikolai wants to see Sasha takes a position of political power, but Sasha wants nothing to do with it, having married Zoe (Samantha Garcia), an American activist working to expose the injustices done by the current government. Nikolai’s relationship with heroin-addicted prostitute Natalia (Meghan M. Martinez) ends up bringing the four together in an explosive, tragic climax, but Spence’s script fails to capture the setting and the scenes have an unnatural build to them that makes it difficult to connect with the action on stage.

Language becomes a hurdle in establishing the play’s foreign setting, as little is done to de-Americanize the dialogue beyond the actors adding eastern European dialects. The opening scene has musician Sasha and Nikolai speaking in semi-broken English, but thankfully it is quickly done away with as it makes no sense to have two educated characters speaking ungrammatically in their own language. The profanity-laced dialogue has an almost-Tarantino stylization that feels out of place in the European environment, but the two actors are able to make the action interesting enough to keep the focus.

Zoe speaks in a thicker accent to show her unfamiliarity with the language, but ends up sacrificing a lot of diction in the process. The playwright doesn’t provide much exposition regarding the current socio-political climate of Belarus, and losing Zoe’s expository lines due to her accent diminishes the clarity of the plot. Dialects prove a further hindrance when the characters become enraged, as the actors often lose their accents in the explosion of emotion.

Sound of the Yellow Flower 3 Sound of the Yellow Flower 1

These sudden fits of rage occur throughout The Sound of a Yellow Flower, as most of the scenes quickly and without warning turn into screaming matches between the characters. Intensity is fine, but without any proper buildup the emotions feel empty. The relationships aren’t given the time to develop completely, making the connections between characters feel artificial. When it doesn’t feel like there’s any danger in watching a hooker get choked, there’s something wrong.

When these jumps into fury are avoided, the play gains actual depth, like a scene that juxtaposes one of Nikolai’s first nights with Natalia with the first meeting of Sasha and Zoe. The actors are given the time to create intimate moments with each other, and the relationships benefit greatly from the newly established chemistry. The scenes that follow are a return to form, but the brief glimmer of love provides a bit of hope for the tragic characters before their lives fall apart.

      
      
Rating: ★★
  
   

Sound of Yellow Flower poster 2

  
  

 

September 15, 2010 | 0 Comments More