Tag: Margot Bordelon

Review: T. (American Theater Company)

Leah Raidt stars as T. in T. at American Theater Company           
         

T.

Written by Dan Aibel 
American Theater Co., 1909 W. Byron (map)
thru June 25  |  tix: $38  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

June 3, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: First Look 2014 – “Hushabye” “Ironbound” “Okay, Bye” (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Billy Fenderson and Lusia Strus star in "Ironbound" by Martyna Majok, directed by Daniella Topol, part of Steppenwolf Theatre's "First Look Repertory 2014". (photo credit: Emily Schwartz)        
      
First Look 2014

Written by Tanya Saracho, Martyna Majok,
    and Joshua Conkel
Directed by Yasen Peyankov, Daniella Topol,
     and Margot Bordelon
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru Aug 24  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review 
     

August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: We Live Here (Theatre Seven of Chicago)

     
Photo #1 (l to r) – George Zerante Cyd Blakewell Jessica London-Shields Cody Proctor Photo: Amanda Clifford We Live Here

Conceive and Directed by Margot Bordelon and Cassy Sanders
Written by Scott T. Barsotti, Molly Each, Laura Eason, Brian Golden, Kristin Idaszak, Kim Morris, Nick Ward and Doug Whippo
Greenhouse Theater Ctr, 2257 Lincoln (map)
thru Sept 11  | tickets: $15-$25  | more info

Check for half-price tickets

       Read entire review

     
August 16, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Aiming for Sainthood (Victory Gardens)

 

The Good Girl

 

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Victory Gardens Fresh-Squeezed presents
  
Aiming for Sainthood
   
Written and performed by Arlene Malinowski
Directed by Will Rogers
Richard Christiansen Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
through September 26  |  tickets: $20  |  more info 

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Arlene Malinowski’s comic one-act monologue, Aiming for Sainthood, is about being an adult child of deaf parents, right in the middle of her mother’s struggle against cancer. Or, is she more a childlike adult—for Arlene’s vacation trip to her parents’ home in New Jersey alters radically after the out-of-the-blue discovery that Mom has cancer. From that point on everything Arlene attempts as damage control throws her back into the childhood state she knew before leaving home. Onstage at Victory Gardens’s Richard Christiansen Theater for only six performances, Malinowski’s warm and witty tale about managing the unmanageable in the face of mortality is sure to delight audiences familiar with the separate cultures and experiences created by deafness or other lifelong disabilities.

Aiming for Sainthood's Arlene Malinowski - with horns!Malinowski’s storytelling performance is funny and outgoing. Will Rogers direction keeps the pace moving around Nick Seiben’s sensible and subtly intriguing set. “I’m all about getting it done,” says Arlene, taking responsibility for Mom’s care, little suspecting her family’s battle with cancer will be a long and draining one that demands immense personal sacrifice from her. Malinowski lightens that struggle with accounts of running into various characters at the hospital, recollections of her thoroughly Catholic childhood, and the recognizable facets of Jersey culture. There’s Butch, the uber-practical gay male nurse in salmon-colored scrubs and Ruby, one of the hospital’s “regulars” who keeps passing out free coupons to the cafeteria. Finally, there’s Arlene’s Dad, who has a very poetic deaf way of telling people they’re stupid, and her sister, Diana, who gets off easy by being the perpetual baby of the family.

Malinowski’s abilities to humorously relate her tale need no critical coaching from the sidelines—a fact pounded home to me by the audience’s delighted response to her script and well-timed performance. From my own chair, I found her handling of these themes a little on the lite side. Think Erma Bombeck meets The Savages meets Late Night Catechism—nice is the sentiment that overwhelms Aiming for Sainthood. If nice and lite is how you like humor about facing down mortality, shouldering the burdens of caretaking, crises of faith and dealing with less-than-responsible siblings, this is your show. All those looking for darker, weightier humor will need to go elsewhere.

I, for one, was almost palpably relieved once Malinowski started acknowledging her propensity for self-neglect in her self-martyrdom. “My head throbs and I smell like a food court,” she says, once Mom’s stay in the hospital has been extended and extended. Taking on all the responsibility has reduced her to junk food, sweatpants and day time television. “I’ll take Perfect Daughters for a thousand, Alex,” she cracks, still thinking her return home to her husband in Los Angeles is imminent.

Malinowski’s humor exists to keep the darkness at bay. Since Arlene is capable of having her own miraculous revelations and since Mom ultimately survives cancer, why not? I left the theater feeling this play’s lightness, but not much depth. However, looking into the contented and moved faces of audience members as they were leaving, I realized that there are disparate ways to deal with resentment and pain. Whatever works.

   
   
Rating: ★★★
  
  

The production runs September 20-26, 2010, in the in the Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

 

 

 

Extra Credit:

 

September 21, 2010 | 3 Comments More

REVIEW: Mimesophobia (Theatre Seven)

One of the most refreshing plays to land this season

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Theatre Seven presents:

 

Mimesophobia

Written by Carlos Murillo
Directed by Margot Bordelon
At Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue,
through April 4th (more info)

By Oliver Sava

I knew Mimesophobia was going to be Brechtian when I saw the costume rack on stage. Underneath the hanging clothes? A shelf of props. Double Brecht. No actors, no dialogue, and it is obvious who is running the show: everyone’s favorite pioneer of epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht. My suspicions are confirmed when the two narrators take the stage, Man-Who-Speaks-Omniscient-Between-the-2nd-and-3rd-Person-a.k.a. Brian (Brian Golden) and Woman-Who-Speaks-in-the-2nd-Person-Omniscient-a.k.a. Jessica (Jessica Thigpen). With the articulation of newscasters, the duo introduces us to the world of the play, continuously reminding us that what we are seeing is, without a doubt, a staged retelling.

T7_Mimesophobia_07 Suddenly the empty stage is Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where two young screenwriters are premiering their new film about the murder-suicide of a New England couple. Henry (Michael Salinas) and Aaron (Brian Stojak) break down the final scene of Before and After frame by frame – don’t forget, this is a retelling – and questions begin forming. Who died? How? And who is this woman going on The Charlie Rose Show and why is this elderly Hyde Park couple terrified of her? These questions will be answered by the end, but more will be left unanswered.

Mimesophobia juggles three storylines, each informing the others but also doubting them. Truth is relative. Cassy (Cassy Sanders), the sister of the murdered woman, tries to understand the events that lead to the killing by reconstructing her sister’s journals, burned on the night she was killed. At an artist’s colony, Henry and Aaron are working on a first draft of Before and After, but struggling with a bad case of writer’s block. Shawn (Cyd Blakewell) is the rambling genius writing One Night Only: Actual Death and the Future of American Entertainment, a nonfiction novel about cultural fascination with the recreation of deadly situations. Stuck on the middle chapter – “the cat burglar’s pick that once turned will drop the tumblers in place opening a door” – she is also living on a cot at the artist’s colony, eating peanut butter tortillas and murmuring like a maniac.

After the Chinese Theater prologue, the history of Shawn and how she crosses paths with Henry and Aaron. The script is clever, the narrators are beginning to have a little more fun – Jessica is playing Beth, Shawn’s mother – and Blakewell delivers each line in a detached monotone that is creepy as hell. Brecht rears his adorable little head with costume changes on stage and actors as set crew, but it works with the play’s theme that entertainment survives by fictionalizing fact. Theater is inherently a lie, but it is the collective experience of the audience seeing a story together that creates truth by asking the viewer to question what they think they know. The play has us asking questions and thinking about the bigger ideas, but is there a human connection? Is this a seriocomic experiment in dialectical metatheatre or will this story resonate on a deeper emotional level?

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Enter Cassy, the character most impacted by the central tragedy of the plot and our anchor to the truth. Sanders bring vulnerability to the production, her quivering voice and small frame a sharp contrast to the crisp confidence of the other performers, and her scenes are the most visceral of the production. As she uncovers hidden facts about her sister and her troubled marriage, Cassy begins to question her own relationship with the deceased.

The pieces are all in place, now the puzzle building begins, with Murillo’s script layering events to build suspense. Revelations that Cassy finds in her sisters journals provide major breakthroughs in the plot, which are then explored through the creative lens of Henry and Aaron. How Shawn fits into the narrative is the biggest mystery, and Blakewell offers few clues to her enigmatic character’s intentions, a captivating cipher.

Seeing these pieces come together is the fun of Mimesophobia, so the less you know, the better. Margot Bordelon’s direction moves the production at a quick pace that doesn’t sacrifice emotion, and the actors have a firm handle on Carlos Murillo’s stylized dialogue and the relationships, especially Cassy’s with her dead sister. Funny, provocative, and poignant, Theatre Seven’s Mimesophobia is a huge success for the young company, and one of the more refreshing plays to land this season.

 

Rating: ★★★★

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March 11, 2010 | 0 Comments More

Review: “Lies and Liars” by Theatre Seven of Chicago

Can We Handle the Truth?

 Lies & Liars

Theatre Seven of Chicago at Chicago Dramatists presents

Lies and Liars
Conceived and directed by Margot Bordelon and Cassy Sanderson
Thru August 30 (buy tickets)
Reviewed by Timothy McGuire

Margot Bordelon and Cassy Sanderson created and directed Lies & Liars, which investigates the nature of lies and whether our lives would really be better off if we always knew the truth. The story utilized to present the grey area between truth and dishonesty is told through the employees of an international lie protection agency (ALCOR) located in Chicago. In this office holds everyone’s files containing the vast number of lies that have been told to them, including the employees.

Lies & Liars Courtney O’Neil has designed the stage as an average office space separated into individual cubicles by portable walls which are frequently moved around to change the stage to another space/floor within the office. Each employee is introduced with a Zach Morris-style freeze-frame moment (ala Saved By The Bell) where the stage is darkened except for the spot light on the actress/actor and a short humorous bio of the character is displayed. The story follows a newly hired janitor Ben (Brad Smith) as he frets about his recent break-up with his girlfriend and is tempted with the ability to know the truth by reading his own file. As the play develops the scenes change in a rhythmic movement that is at first entertaining, but the constant unnecessary shifting between sets interrupts the character development and loose its clever quality after the first few times it is done.

Lies & Liars The idea of exploring the necessity of lies, and the impact it would have on our lives if we knew the truth about everything and everyone around us is interesting and holds the potential for a meaningful reflection on human nature. Lies & Liars falls short in its effort to question the depth of the nature of lies and its impact on its characters. The script does nothing to further give insight in to the subject matter of truth, and the presentation is plain yet saved by the chemistry and top-notch performance of the cast.

From the opening of the play, Vikki (Marjorie Armstrong) steals the show. Her physical concoctions have you giggling in your seat. She brings life into her character with the stress in her face and a hump in her back. Constantly pushing her body to the extreme of ridiculous, she never even moves a finger without it being in-line with her character. It is the tremendously physical acting with in the whole cast that brings out the personalities of the characters. The script lacks meaningful dialogue that would Lies & Liarsengage the audience and help us understand the emotions and thought process of the characters but the actress/actors make up for the lack of words with their absurd and subtle physical interactions on stage.

The motivations to lie  is explored and classifications and rationalizations are given for why people hide the truth and the possible importance for the existence of dishonesty, although if you are looking for a thought provoking play or even a new perspective on the subject you will be surely disappointed. In the end, the intriguing premise of Lies & Liars by Theatre Seven remains underdeveloped.  Thankfully, however, the acting remained creatively entertaining throughout. So, if you are looking for a meaningless fun time and a chance to see a cast of young rising stars, check out Lies & Liars at Chicago Dramatist.

Rating: «½

 

LiesAndLiars logo

August 5, 2009 | 1 Comment More