Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-06-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Theater: Ellen Under Glass

facebook twitter stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Ben Lobpries

At: The House Theatre of Chicago at

The Storefront Theater at Gallery 37, 66 E. Randolph

Contact: 312-742-TIXS;; $15

Runs through: April 26


The lights are on, but no one's home.

So it is at the House Theatre of Chicago and the kinetic but oddly vacant Ellen Under Glass. Filled with inscrutable characters wearing faces of perpetual anguish as they thrash about like Isadora Duncan on an especially bad day, this pseudo-myth comes off as pretentious posturing. For a theater piece as thick with movement as this one, Ellen Under Glass feels static. Maybe that's because heavy-duty yet unidentifiable symbolism and/or unreadable subtext hangs like great leaden balloons from every word of dialogue and leap of dance. Or maybe it's because the choreography by Tommy Rapley ( who also directs ) is as repetitive as it is athletic, which is to say very.

A new work by Ben Lobpries, Ellen Under Glass plays out on an intriguing set dominated by ancient ( or ancient-looking ) window frames and doors. With their peeling paint and rusty knobs, the look is ghostly and surreal—and the best part of the production.

Also striking is the hybrid of blues and country music, primarily composed by Maria McCullough ( with one song by Porter Wagoner ) and performed with mournful, tuneful lushness by Eddie and the Panes ( McCullough, Lobpries, Devin Preitaur, Emily Spiegel and Mike Przygoda, masterfully blending a mix of fiddles, keyboard, percussion and vocals ) .

It's when the story overtakes the music that Ellen Under Glass gets into trouble. It begins with Ellen ( Carolyn Defrin, whose on-stage emotions range from devastated to profoundly unhappy ) , whom we learn is pregnant, having nightmares and about to be married to a man she doesn't love.

We can see she's deeply tormented because she's constantly hurling herself into the floor and writhing about while emoting as if she just ate ground glass. When Ellen goes through a mirror like Alice through the looking glass, she winds up on Black Mountain, which perhaps is purgatory, or—since a miscarriage as well as shrieking dreams of a dead baby crop up frequently—maybe Limbo, which every Catholic knows is where unbaptized babies go.

There, Ellen meets Joan of Arc, ( Paige Hoffman, whose costume seems designed to highlight her fabulously taut abs rather than reflect anything Joan of Arc-ian ) and Jezebel ( Dominica Wasilewska, looking like a disheveled version of Helen of Troy ) . The three are pursued over Black Mountain and encounter a trio of demons who hiss through hair that covers their eyes and flap around in tattery outfits that look like a full pot of coffee exploded all over them.

Chris Matthews plays Ellen's fiance and a denizen of Black Mountain. He's a terrific dancer, but he'd be more effective without the Bobby Sherman haircut and the foot-wide silver belt.

Bring back Valentine Victorious.

facebook twitter stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


The Golden Girls, The Lot Episodes, extended through Aug. 26 2017-06-21
Kathy Bates to headline Oct. 2 event 2017-06-21
THEATER REVIEW Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies 2017-06-21
THEATER REVIEW Native Gardens 2017-06-21
THEATER REVIEW The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes 2017-06-21
CRITICS'PICKS 2017-06-21
NUNN ON ONE: THEATER 'The King and' Kavin Panmeechao 2017-06-21
LGBTQ drama through July 16 2017-06-21
'Nuns in Charge' through July 16 2017-06-21
Lookingglass ED Kraft to exit 2017-06-21
Spotlight on Gaywatch 2017-06-21
THEATER REVIEW Pass Over 2017-06-21
Biker-club play through June 28 2017-06-21
ATC play explores Kerrigan/Harding 2017-06-21
Milly's Orchid Show '29 Years and Holdin' July 29 2017-06-21
Sedaris, Ginsburg, Ailey dancers part of Auditorium's season 2017-06-21
Journey To The Center Of Pride at Annoyance Theater after the Pride Parade 2017-06-21
Entertainment news: Male model comes out, Laverne Cox, Mariah Carey 2017-06-20
Pride Arts Center hosts pre-Pride Parade breakfast, rally Sunday, June 25 2017-06-20
Museum event on science of sex June 20 2017-06-16
Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay! at Center on Halsted July 9 2017-06-14
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Bullying blame 2017-06-14
THEATER REVIEW Ragtime 2017-06-14
THEATER REVIEW Her Majesty's Will 2017-06-14
THEATER REVIEW Pilgrims 2017-06-14
Critics' Picks 2017-06-14
NUNN ON ONE Alexandra Billings talks 'Transparent,' tunes and Caitlyn 2017-06-14
'Evan Hansen' prevails at Tonys 2017-06-14
THEATER REVIEW Naked Boys Singing! 2017-06-14
Theater Spotlight on SHADE: An ACTUALLY Diverse Comedy Show 2017-06-13
Dan Savage in Chicago June 15 2017-06-13
'Out to Climb' pride event June 13 2017-06-11
Naked Boys Singing! through July 1 2017-06-08
THEATER Summer stock and Shakespeare under the stars 2017-06-07
THEATER REVIEW The Night Season 2017-06-07
THEATER REVIEW King Liz 2017-06-07
THEATER REVIEW Parade 2017-06-07
Critics' Picks 2017-06-07
Theater Spotlight on You're Being Ridiculous PRIDE 2017-06-07
THEATER REVIEW Bright Half Life 2017-06-07

Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.