Tag: Robert Koon

Review: Seminar (Spartan Theatre)

  Robert Koon in Seminar by Theresa Rebeck, Spartan Theatre          



Written by Theresa Rebeck 
at The Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale (map)
thru June 4  |  tix: $25  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chagrin Falls (The Agency Theater Collective)

Merrick Robison and Jennifer Cheung star as Henry and Patrice in Chagrin Falls, Agency Theater           

Chagrin Falls

Written by Mia McCullough 
at Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Dec 4  |  tix: $28  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

November 14, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: A Small Fire (Steep Theatre)

Melissa Riemer and Julia Siple star in Steep Theatre's "A Small Fire" by Adam Bock, directed by Joanie Schultz. (photo credit: Lee Miller)        
A Small Fire

Written by Adam Bock  
Directed by Joanie Schultz  
at Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn (map)
thru Aug 16  |  tickets: $20-$22   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

July 24, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Roper (The Den Theatre)

Michael Downey and Tony Bozzuto star in The Den Theatre's world premiere of "The Roper" by Will Dunne, directed by Ron Wells. (photo credit: Joe Mazza)        
The Roper 

Written by Will Dunne
Directed by Ron Wells
The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru April 13  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
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March 28, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: At His Best (Cold Basement Dramatics)

Cold Basement Dramatics presents "At His Best" by Cassandra Rose, directed by Mike Mroch. (photo credit: Brandy Reichenberger)        
At His Best

Written by Cassandra Rose
Directed by Mike Mroch
at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee (map)
thru Jan 26  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
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January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Homecoming 1972 (Chicago Dramatists)

Matt Holzfeind and Molly Glynn star in Chicago Dramatists' "Homecoming 1972" by Robert Koon, directed by Kimberly Senior. (photo credit: Jeff Pines)        
Homecoming 1972 

Written by Robert Koon
Directed by Kimberly Senior 
at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
thru June 23  |  tickets: $15-$32   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
        Read entire review

May 27, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: I Am Going to Change the World (Chicago Dramatists)

Nicholas Harazin, I Am Going to Change the World, Chicago Dramatists      
I Am Going to
    Change the World

Written by Andrew Hinderaker 
Directed by Jonathan Berry 
Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
thru July 1  |  tickets: $20-$32   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

June 5, 2012 | 1 Comment More

Review: Heddatron (Sideshow Theatre)


A mechanical masterpiece in the Steppenwolf garage


Nina O'Keefe in Heddatron - Sideshow Theatre

Sideshow Theatre presents
Written by Elizabeth Meriweather
Directed by Jonathan L. Green
at Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
through April 24  |  tickets: $20  |  more info

Reviewed by Oliver Sava

Steppenwolf’s 2nd-annual Garage Rep Series offers three burgeoning storefront theaters the opportunity to mount a production in one of the city’s prime locations, and Sideshow Theatre’s stunning Heddatron establishes the company as an important, unique voice in the Chicago stage scene. A technical marvel, the show features ten fully functioning robots working in conjunction with an ensemble of nine actors, and the results are both hilarious and startlingly profound. Elizabeth Meriweather’s script initially follows three storylines: depressed, pregnant Michigan housewife Jane Gordon (Nina O’Keefe) reads Hedda Gabler on her couch, her husband Rick (Matt Fletcher) and daughter Nugget (Catherine Stegemann) search for her after she A scene from Elizabeth Meriweather's 'Heddatron', presented by Chicago's Sideshow Theatre.mysteriously disappears, and Hedda Gabler playwright Henrik Ibsen (Robert Koon) creates his tragic masterpiece.

The three stories weave together beautifully with great comedic transitions by the 10-year old Stegemann, and when they converge, the production achieves a moment of transcendence that reminded me of visiting Disneyland for the first time as a child. All the elements – sound, lights, acting, robots – are perfectly calibrated for maximum wonderment, and the production shifts from clever social critique to technological hyper-parody. Director Jonathan L. Green and his team of designer have crafted an outstanding multi-sensory experience, as Christopher M. LaPorte’s sound design builds tension to the reveal of the full grandeur of Lili Stoessel’s set and Jordan Kardasz’s lighting: the Robot Forest. This is where Jane Gordon will be forced to read Hedda Gabler with her robotic co-stars as the play’s creator watches on, stunned at the results.

Meriweather’s plot isn’t logical, but Green and his ensemble of actors have found the reality underneath these characters’ extraordinary circumstances to make the play rise above its face comedic value. The play begins with O’Keefe having already been on stage, in that same couch, for about fifteen minutes as the audience takes their seats. I don’t know if that’s in the script or not, but it really helps hammer the character’s crippling ennui. She doesn’t speak for the first twenty minutes of the play, and has to get on stage before the audience is even full? No wonder she’s bored. When Jane finally speaks, they are not her words, but Hedda Gabler’s, as she reads from the book that mysteriously fell into her room.

The three storylines all feature relatively ordinary main characters surrounded by spectacular supporting players. The soft-spoken, contemplative Ibsen has to put up with a harpy of a wife (Jennifer Matthews), a sex-kitten maid (Jennifer Shine), and a deranged nymphomaniac August Strindberg (Brian Grey). Rick and his daughter Nugget are teamed up with an insane small arms dealer named Cubby (Andy Luther) and an acne-ridden Big Bang Theory-styled film student (Nate Wheldon). And Jane has all those awesome, awesome robots. I could put few more awesomes in there, because these robots are not only technologically breathtaking, but have amazing comedic timing and design. My favorite robo-moment is when Auntjuliebot (I love that I get to type that!) is asked to sit down. Hilarity ensues, made all the better by the machine’s completely emotionless line delivery.

Nina O'Keefe - Sideshow Theatre - Heddatron A scene from Elizabeth Meriweather's 'Heddatron', presented by Chicago's Sideshow Theatre.
A scene from Elizabeth Meriweather's 'Heddatron', presented by Chicago's Sideshow Theatre. Hedatron - robot in the snow

While the robots serve a largely comedic function in the play, they also represent the mechanical, repetitive nature of domestic life. When Jane is kidnapped, she is in a place that is completely new and exciting, where she has no responsibilities, no lists of things to do, and she is finally able to release her emotions through her character. There’s nothing to suggest in the script that Jane is familiar with Hedda Gabler, or even if she goes to the theater, and O’Keefe’s reading of Hedda has a great uncertainty to it. As she is pressured to continue, Hedda takes over Jane, and O’Keefe is able to actually get into Ibsen’s character, capturing Hedda’s emotional instability with a vigor that made me eager to see what O’Keefe would really do in the role.

Hedda, Jane, and Ibsen are all living human beings in a world of robots, characters programmed to achieve maximum irritability, ecstasy, or even cuteness. Hedda and Jane don’t want to play a part anymore, and while Hedda ultimately gets her escape, Jane is forced back on the track, another pill-popping cog in the suburban machine. The play ends with a cameo from a Hollywood actress known for her stirring portrayals of distressed middle-aged women, a tear-filled tribute that gets big laughs, but also speaks to the play’s deeper themes. The ability to find emotional truth in the midst of absurdity is the sign of great comedy, and Heddatron is gifted with a cast and team that know just where to look.

Rating: ★★★★

March 3, 2011 | 0 Comments More