Tag: Paul Chakrin
We Have Always Lived
in the Castle
Adapted and Directed by Paul Edwards
Violence, live! And some serious ethics questions too
|DreamLogic Theatreworks presents|
|A Clockwork Orange|
|Book and play written by Anthony Burgess
Directed by Scott McKinsey
at The Rotunda, 1603 Orrington, Evanston (map)
through July 2nd | tickets: $15-$30 | more info
Reviewed by Jason Rost
The opening of DreamLogic’s production of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange is shockingly resonant of some frightening current events in Chicago. A gang of teenagers enter the abandoned rotunda space carrying items such as a bat and an iPhone. They meaninglessly harass the audience, eventually picking out two audience members (obviously planted) who they brutally beat and rape. The senseless acts of violence by teenagers are something that has been on the rise in the Chicago area this summer. I personally know friends who have been attacked on red line trains in recent weeks. This fear is aroused during the disturbing first few minutes in director Scott McKinsey’s Clockwork. I’m not sure if that level of fear is ever reached again for the remainder of the production, but the rest of the play is consistently captivating.
If you don’t know the story of A Clockwork Orange, be it through reading Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel or Stanely Kubrick’s 1971 masterful film, then it’s safe to say that Burgess’ own stage adaptation (which debuted at Steppenwolf in 1994) is an unjust introduction to the darkly satiric science fiction story. All of the main characters are present, most specifically Alex (Mikey Renan). He is violent beyond belief. He rapes children and kills old women all for fun. After getting arrested, along with his gang of violent offenders (who lose some individuality in the play adaptation), Alex is chosen for a new scientific experiment. After a barrage of sensory distortion, Alex is “cured.” He still has the will to commit violence, but now has a physical reaction to these urges and his body will not carry them out. Burgess’ story goes on to question the morality of this, and whether a human deserves the right to freewill even if their decisions are harmful to others.
To be fully honest, this production is a success almost entirely due to DreamLogic’s choice of found space. While there is talent amongst the direction and performances, this production would be nowhere near as entertaining as it is while the audience inhabits this abandoned circular room (which I believe was a bank lobby at some point) with high ceilings and windows all around. While you can catch glimpses of the Evanston crowd out to dinner, you feel a world apart in the surreal space. Each area of the vast room is designed to resemble a futuristic or post-apocalyptic playground. The laboratory set is a cross between Kubrick’s “2001” and Woody Allen’s “Sleeper,” giving us a 1960’s sci-fi glimpse of the future. The absurdness of the technology allows you to simply move past the HOW and straight onto the WHY.
Although the audience moves with the action, I don’t know if I’d consider the staging to be promenade. While McKinsey utilizes the Rotunda in a logical and intelligent manner, it’s more of a follow-along carousel of vignettes. Personally, I felt as if I was in a video game where you can walk within inches of the characters and they will usually ignore your presence. However, there could have been seats placed in each area for the audience to move to as the action went around the circle. While possibly not as engaging, it would have ensured that the audience is seeing what’s important at any given moment which can prove to be a difficulty here. Even with an audience on foot, there should be seating in each area simply for the comfort of audience members who physically cannot remain standing during the duration of the play.
Standout performances are given by Tyler Pistorius and Meg Elliot. Occasionally the cast proves to be a little uneven, and even flat in delivery. Mikey Renan hits a lot of aspects to Alex with brutal accuracy. He walks the line between intellect and barbarian. His bursts of fierceness give the production needed jolts. One primary downfall to his performance though is his vocal work. This is in part due to the cavernous Rotunda space, which sucks up sound. But it’s also that whenever Alex is in pain, or furious, Renan’s voice becomes so strained that many of his lines are difficult to decipher.
Samantha Egle’s violence design has several high points, but can get a little sloppy throughout the course of the show. With the massive amount of violence choreography making it incredibly difficult to hit every “nap,” unfortunately – in this style of staging – the sloppiness is all the more noticeable, especially if you happen to be on the wrong angle. However, there’s this sense with the free roaming of the audience that the violence has been let out of its cage and could strike anywhere.
Perhaps one of the most impressive elements of McKinsey’s production is that it stands on its own apart from the Kuberick film. While meditating on the same themes, it manages to remain theatrical rather than cinematic. This is Clockwork done live, which adds an element that neither the book nor the film can boast. While some of the brilliant narration and poetry of the novel are lost, at an hour and a half the action is on display in full visceral effect.
A Clockwork Orange runs through July 2nd at the Rotunda in Evanston. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM. Tickets are $15 students and $30 general. For tickets and more information visit: www.dreamlogictheatreworks.blogspot.com.
An ambitious Shakespeare in promenade style
|DreamLogic TheatreWorks presents|
|Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Scott McKinsey
at Gunder Mansion, 6219 N. Sheridan (map)
thru March 5 | tickets: $30 (w/ open bar) | more info
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
His father was murdered. His mother married the killer. His girlfriend is playing hard-to-get. Why so glum Hamlet? DreamLogic TheatreWorks presents Hamlet, performed in promenade. Hamlet is in mourning. His uncle/step-dad wants hit him to snap out of it. His mom struggles to soothe her husband’s and her son’s mood swings. His girlfriend’s father assesses that Hamlet is a nut job. At her dad’s insistence, Ophelia breaks it off with Hamlet. Despite seeing a ghost, contemplating suicide, and being dumped, Hamlet is focused on getting his uncle to admit to the assassination. He contracts a traveling theatre troupe to perform a play of deception and betrayal. In between sniping at his ex, Hamlet observes the discomfort of his uncle’s theatre experience. The show doesn’t quite have Hamlet’s anticipated happy ending. His uncle admits only one thing, like father like son, death is the simple solution. The body count rises as life spirals into a stabbing-drowning-poisoning-stabbing fatal distraction. Presented in promenade, DreamLogics’ Hamlet is Shakespeare in your face, by your side, and behind your back.
A promenade theatrical experience puts the audience on stage. The technique has theatre-goers physically follow the activity from room to room. Set in the Gunder Mansion, DreamLogic utilizes the main floor, including the foyer and the front door. It starts in darkness. The cast is wearing contemporary street clothing. It’s hard to tell the actors from the audience. Flashlights and door pounding provide gripping chaos. The intrigue engages immediately and continues through a thrilling and potentially dangerous swordfight. Being feet, and sometimes inches, away from the action makes it personal. It’s like going to someone’s house for a dinner- murder theme party but with no dinner. (There is, however, an open bar.) Depending on your position…literally, observing the smallest gesture broadens the character’s persona. Gertrude pats her husband’s arm to shush his drunken pontification. Polonius crushes Ophelia’s love life and then patronizingly kisses her on the head. Gertrude and Claudius giggle like newlyweds. The talented cast promotes the virtual reality Shakespearean experience.
Director Scott McKinsey broadens the focal point of the scene to all the characters in the room. Without the fourth wall separation, characters are unable to melt into the scenery. They are constantly on. With the aid of clothing and closeness, the Shakespeare prose becomes conversational with subtle nuances teased out. A stand-out, Rob Glidden (Polonius) gives a blow hard delivery that is hysterical. Glidden is such a dad! Glidden lectures his son about money and his daughter about giving-it-away-for-free. Out of his paternal arena, he bumbles at court with delightful buffoonery. Jack Sharkey (Hamlet) keeps it real. Sharkey’s choices make Hamlet a recognizable guy. Sharkey rants in desperate betrayal and rejection. Sharkey is a hothead haunted by his dad’s ghost and his own honor. Either because of the vicinity or the humanity, Sharkey may be the most authentic Hamlet I’ve ever seen. Other especially poignant performances are a heart-wrenching Ophelia (Alexis Meuche), a maternally torn Gertrude (Meg Elliott) and shiver-inducing ghost/drunkenly disturbing Claudius (Paul Chakrin).
Shakespeare done in promenade is an ambitious undertaking. The classic verse doesn’t lend easily to an intimate experience. Plus, especially in Hamlet, the plays are long! Three hours standing is a challenge. To alleviate any discomfort, DreamLogic has benches and chairs in each room for a momentary respite. The occasional squat combined with comfortable shoes help make it less murderous on the audience. DreamLogic TheatreWork’s Hamlet is a classic and unique entertainment experience.
Running Time: Three hours with a ten minute intermission