Tag: Rebecca Cagney

Review: The Assembled Parties (Raven Theatre)

Loretta Rezos and Joe Mack in The Assembled Parties, Raven Theatre           
      

The Assembled Parties

Written by Richard Greenberg
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru March 25  |  tix: $22-$46  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets
     

February 16, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Posh (Steep Theatre)

Colin Sphar stars as Hugo in Steep Theatre's "Posh" by Laura Wade, directed by Jonathan Berry. (photo credit: Gregg Gilman)          
      
   

Posh

Written by Laura Wade
Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn (map)
thru Mar 26  |  tix: $25-$35   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

January 23, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Symmetry Breaking (On The Spot Theatre)

On the Spot Theatre, Symmetry Breaking by Michael Brayndick        
       
Symmetry Breaking 

Written and Directed by Michael Brayndick
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
       
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August 5, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Enola (The Side Project Theatre)

The Side Project Theatre presents "Enola" by Al Smith, directed by Jaclynn Jutting.       
      
Enola

Written by Al Smith
Directed by Jaclynn Jutting
at Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis (map)
thru June 15  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
       
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May 28, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Shakespeare’s R & J (Idle Muse Theatre)

Curtis Jackson, Andrew Lund, Nathan Ducker and Matt Dyson in Idle Muse Theatre's "Shakespeare's R & J" by Joe Calarco.       
      
Shakespeare’s R & J 

Written by Joe Calarco
Directed by Tristan Brandon
Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis (map)
thru March 18  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
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February 19, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Wonders Never Cease (Provision Theater)

  
  

Broad brush strokes make paradoxical play

  
  

Wonders Never Cease - Provision Theater - poster

  
Provision Theater presents
   
Wonders Never Cease
  
Adapted and Directed by Tim Gregory
Based on the book by Tim Downs
at Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. (map)
through June 5  |  tickets: $25-$28  |  more info 

Reviewed by Keith Ecker

Provision TheaterCompany‘s world premier production of Wonders Never Cease has all the trappings of a wacky children’s comedy. Think “Miracle on 34th Street” meets “3 Ninjas”. Its overly simplistic portrayal of religion, faith, people, relationships, right and wrong makes it easy to follow but hard to stomach. Jokes arise out of tired premises, while characters are pulled from the archetype bargain bin. And the ending is so saccharine sweet, it will make your stomach turn.

Caroline Heffernan as Leah - Provision TheaterProvision is known for its religious-themed plays. Its mission is to produce works of "hope, reconciliation and redemption." Wonders Never Cease is no exception. It attempts to dramatically answer the question, "Do angels really exist?" Unfortunately, the sophomoric manner in which it illustrates this theme is so simplistic it’s insulting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a believer or not. The surface-level treatment this weighty topic is given is sadly laughable. By painting with such broad brush strokes, playwright Tim Gregory (who adapted and directed the play and serves as the company’s artistic director) inadvertently creates a number of paradoxes that muddle the meaning and erode the play’s potential.

Wonders Never Cease centers on Leah (the very talented and young Caroline Heffernan), a little girl who claims to have seen an angel on the side of the road. Those close to her are skeptical of her visions, including her mother (Katherine Banks), her mother’s boyfriend (Ryan Kitley) and her teacher (Matt Klingler). Leah’s bizarre visions raise eyebrows, and soon the school is recommending a complete evaluation.

Meanwhile, the boyfriend, Kemp, works as a nurse who isn’t afraid to overstep his authority. When he is assigned to care for a comatose female celebrity (Holly Bittinger), he devises a moneymaking opportunity. This is good news for him, considering he owes big bucks to an East Coast loan shark (Sean Bolger). Kemp, the loan shark, the celebrity’s agent (JoBe Cerny) and a book publisher (Michael Wollner) conspire to fool the celebrity by implanting her with a false religious vision. The plan is that when she eventually comes to, she’ll confuse the ruse for reality and write a best-selling novel. I don’t want to spoil it, but, suffice to say, things go awry.

Despite its weaknesses, the play has several strong points. First, the acting is top tier. Little Heffernan is a darling young actress. It’s hard to keep your eyes off of her. The performers are eloquent and dynamic. Unfortunately the characters they’ve been assigned to are paper-thin. In fact, half are offensive cultural stereotypes. You have an overweight mammy, a wise old black man, an Italian mobster and a Jewish talent agent who occasionally drops some Yiddish and, at one point, refers to himself as a parasite.

A scene from "Wonders Never Cease" at Provision Theater in Chicago.

The play delivers one comedic triumph—the spot on Oprah impression. The opening parody commercial is a funny bit, too. It’s for a book titled Lattes with God and seeks to lampoon all those feel-good, spirituality books on the market. But unfortunately, the play lacks the awareness to understand the slippery slope it establishes. If Lattes with God is absurd, what about the premise of this play? For that matter, what about the books of the Bible, which were notated by men who were also hearing the word of God? Does the presence of a latte make all the difference?

In addition, the play has a very myopic view of spirituality. The cartoonishly villainous bad guys try to create a false dogma, one that centers on the self. Their catchphrase is, "It’s all about you." I get it. This is the "me" generation, and blatant selfishness is wrong. But they confuse the notions of self-love and self-compassion with pride and greed. In the words of Ru Paul, "If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?"

On a technical level, Wonders Never Cease is a good play. The production level is high, and the acting is strong. But underneath the high-gloss finish is little more than marshmallow fluff. This is junk food for the brain. It’s accessible and immediately gratifying. But you’ll be hungry for some substance soon after.

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

Wonders Never Cease runs runs Saturday, April 30 through Sunday, June 5 at Provision Theater located at 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. The performance schedule is Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($28) and Sundays at 3 p.m. ($25). Student and group discounts are available. For tickets call 866.811.4111 or visit www.provisiontheater.org.

  
  
May 4, 2011 | 0 Comments More