Tag: Stephanie Sullivan

Review: Phantom Pain (Organic Theater)

Stephanie Sullivan and Lisa Herceg star as Meg and Marnie in Phantom Pain, Organic Theater           
      

Phantom Pain

Written by Barbara Lhota
at Greenhouse Theater Center 
   2257 N. Lincoln Ave. (map)
thru April 2  |  tix: $25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

March 18, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Amadeus (BoHo Theatre)

Chris Ballou and Steve O'Connell star as Mozart and Salieri in BoHo Theatre's "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer, directed by Peter Marston Sullivan. (photo credit: Peter Coombs)        
      
Amadeus

Written by Peter Shaffer 
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 16  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

February 28, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Set Up (TheatreBam Chicago)

Stephanie Sullivan and Lisa Witmer star in TheatreBam Chicago's "Set Up" by Dan Noonan, directed by George Keating. (photo by Michael Grossman)        
       
Set Up 

Written by Dan Noonan
Directed by George Keating
at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield (map)
thru Oct 6  |  tickets: $20-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
           Read review
     

September 14, 2013 | 2 Comments More

Review: Slaughter City (Prop Thtr)

Prop Thtr presents "Slaughter City" by Naomi Wallace, directed by Karen Fort.        
       
Slaughter City 

Written by Naomi Wallace 
Directed by Karen Fort
at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston (map)
thru July 14  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

June 18, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pygmalion (Stage Left Theatre and Boho Theatre)

Mouzam Makkar as Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion" by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Vance Smith. (photo credit: Johnny Knight)        
       
Pygmalion 

Written by George Bernard Shaw  
Directed by Vance Smith
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru Feb 10  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
     
         
        Read entire review
     

January 12, 2013 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Village Players)

A reverent treatment of Durang’s classic American play

 

DSC01477

 
Village Players Theater presents
 
The Marriage of Bette and Boo
 
by Christopher Durang
Directed by
Dan Taube
at
Village Players Theater, 1010 W. Madison, Oak Park (map)
through June 27  tickets: $20-$25  |  more info

reviewed by Aggie Hewitt

Oak Park’s Village Players Theater is closing out it’s season of “New American Classics” with The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Christopher Durang’s 1985 tragicomedy about a son reliving the painful memories of his parents marriage. Known for being a personal and autobiographical work, The Marriage of Bette and Boo is so popular for it’s sharp black humor and piercingly intense characters that it’s  become almost cliché. It’s the source of the “lost babies” monologue, a piece so rich with nuance, depth and wit that it’s made its way onto “do not use” list of many acting classes because of overuse.

DSC01487It’s no wonder that actors are drawn to Durang’s work. Bette and Boo has amazing characters, from Emily, the neurotic aunt who is full of self loathing and eagerness to apologize for transgressions she hasn’t committed – played by funny and energetic Megan E. Brown, to the hilariously contemptible priest, who’s just so over having to help his stupid parishioners (Dennis Schnell, whose priest monologue is a show stopper, on the night I saw him it received applause).

With a talented cast and a winning play, there was little director Dan Taube could have done to mess this production up and in fact, he enhanced it. Taube brings out the sadness in this work, lifting the veil of levity in every scene. Although it is a fast passed play, Taube does not shy away from taking time when it is needed to shine a spotlight on an emotional moment. Dan Taube’s direction is the invisible kind: one doesn’t really notice any direction at all, only the story that he has facilitated.

25 years after it was written, The Marriage of Bette and Boo is still a challenging piece of theater. The manic style in which it is written, and the darkness of its subject matter, make it at times difficult to watch. It also feels, well, dated. In 2010 it is no longer en vogue to deliver highly academic, sardonically funny monologues about how much one hates one’s parents (unfortunately). Stephanie Sullivan is an unsympathetic Bette, leaving one to feel that this play might just be a two-and-a-half hour long complaint about Christopher Durang’s mother. Sullivan is a strong actress, and when she is able to find moments of humanity in Bette, they are poignant and lovely (most notably in the aforementioned “lost babies” monologue) but the character – a mother who relentlessly demands to be impregnated, only to drag her family through hell with still births again and again – is as hard for the audience to love as it is for her narrating son.

Modern audiences might feel as if they are watching a very 1980’s dramady with this production, which is extremely well done but does little to innovate or modernize this “new American classic.” Most notably, the set, designed by Annette Vargas, has a super 1980’s feel. Three tall panels are designed with a brightly-colored square pattern that looks like neon stained glass. It’s pretty, and old fashioned looking, and yet somehow it works.

This Village Player’s stuck-in-the-past production is fitting – how for a play about remorse, loss and memory. How something like The Marriage of Bette and Boo could be contemporized would be a challenge. The play seems destined to stay in the 1980’s, to remain a living monument to the year of its creation. Whether or not Dan Taube is correct when he says, “One day people will look at Durang’s body of work and the innovation and the vision and put him in a class with American masters like O’Neill and Williams,” this production, presented with the loyalty and reverence of a period piece, surely supports that hypothesis.

 
 
Rating: ★★★
 
 

BetteBooweb

May 18, 2010 | 0 Comments More