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 2019-05-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Theater: The Dressing Room and The $30,000 Bequest
2007-03-28

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


The Dressing Room

Playwright: Kunio Shimizu, translated by John K. Gillespie

The $30,000 Bequest

Playwright: adapted by Alexander Gelman from the story by Mark Twain

At: Organic Theater Company at the Ruth Page Auditorium, 1016 N. Dearborn

Phone: 800-595-4849; $29

Runs through: April 8

BY MARY SHEN BARNIDGE

When most theatre companies die, they never rise again. Chicago's Organic Theater, that pioneer in the Off-Loop Theatre movement in the 1970s, is the exception, its history a chronicle of several resurrections following on periods of dormancy. The latest claimants to the legendary name have assembled, by way of introduction, an eclectic program of four plays, currently running in rotating repertory.

These plays include artistic director Alexander Gelman's adaptation of Herman Melville's short story, Bartleby The Scrivener ( source of the famous refusal 'I would prefer not to,' uttered by an insubordinate servant with cataclysmic results ) , and Eugene Ionesco's absurdist Man With Bags, along with the two that I attended the inaugural weekend: contemporary Japanese playwright Kunio Shimizu's The Dressing Room, and Gelman's adaptation of a Mark Twain story entitled The $30,000 Bequest.

Shimizu's 1977 existential drama recounts the observations of four actresses backstage during a production of Chekhov's The Seagull. One of them is the aging leading lady, still cast as the ingenuous Nina, despite being 'nearly 40.' Two others are 'prompters'—anonymous understudies positioned onstage near the principles to feed lines to the latter if such assistance should prove necessary. The fourth, however, is a former prompter who has chosen this night to pay her embarrassed colleagues a visit from the sanitarium to which she was committed for her violent behavior after cracking up on the job.

The discussion sparked by this real-world intrusion on the illusory world of theatre-as-metaphor incorporates speeches from familiar western dramas such as Shakespeare's Macbeth and lesser-known ( to American audiences ) Asian 'classics' like Miyoshi Juro's Slashed Senta, in addition to the aforementioned Chekhov's Seagull and Three Sisters. But while it's not implausible for actors-as-characters to discourse in an artificial manner, John K. Gillespie's stilted translation imposes an obtrusive formality on conversations meant to be casually colloquial, compounding the didacticism of Shimizu's philosophical ruminations on women searching for their 'eternal roles.'

Under Gelman's direction, however—and Terrence McClellan's mirror-and-veil scenic design—the quartet of Patricia Skarbinski, Meghan Shea, H. Lynn Kendziera and Jessica Webb embrace their potentially soapy personae with verve, compassion and humor ( especially Shimizu's satirical replications of 'pre-' and 'post-war' performance styles ) , their industry so transcending cultural differences that we share unreservedly in the elation of the moment when, literally, sisterhood triumphs over the threat of emotional isolation.

Mark Twain's cautionary fable presents far fewer obstacles, being the tale of a poor but contented husband and wife for whom notification of 'great expectations' promptly inspires obsessive fantasies approaching folie à deux. Gelman's adaptation is noteworthy for its retaining every word of the original text, even to the 'He said's and 'She replied's. But never for an instant does the stage picture, visual or aural, languish in torpor. Josh Anderson and Jessica Webb, as the naive couple—supported by utility player Joel Stanley Huff—sprint through their paces with agility, even during a sequence requiring them to swap repartee while kicking up their heels in a frenzied ragtime dance, choreographed by Deborah Robertson to the uncredited, but perfectly-selected, score of dixieland jazz.

Debut productions, like debut novels, have the advantage of leisurely gestation, and it remains to be seen if the re-born Organic Theater can sustain the high level of quality to be found in these 'calling-card' productions. For now, however, the outlook is optimistic for the welcome return of this venerated Chicago institution.


facebook twitter del.icio.us 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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

THEATER REVIEW La Havana Madrid 2019-05-19
Correct Arts to present All The World's a Stage, evolution of Chicago theater in art 2019-05-19
Van Ness, Gadsby at Chicago Theatre in June 2019-05-18
Kokandy Productions announces casting for Head Over Heels 2019-05-16
'Stonewall' exhibit talks, performances on May 22-25 2019-05-16
THEATER The Secret of the Biological Clock 2019-05-15
Megan Hilty sings Smash hits at the Goodman gala 2019-05-15
THEATER REVIEW The Winter's Tale 2019-05-15
Critics' Picks 2019-05-14
Spotlight on The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes 2019-05-14
Steppenwolf Theatre to present Ms. Blakk for President special events 2019-05-14
Printers Row Lit Fest to include "Year of Chicago Theatre" in June 2019-05-14
Cirque du Soleil to perform at Soldier Field 2019-05-14
THEATER August Rush: The Musical 2019-05-13
THEATER REVIEW Undeniable Sound of Right Now 2019-05-13
'Two Dykes and a Mic' on May 14-15 2019-05-13
The Annoyance Theatre presents: "Steamworks: The Musical" 2019-05-08
THEATER REVIEW West Side Story 2019-05-08
THEATER REVIEW The Children 2019-05-08
THEATER REVIEW Mad Beat Hip and Gone 2019-05-07
SPOTLIGHT 2019-05-07
COMEDY Joel Kim Booster returns to Chicago 2019-05-07
Randy Rainbow in town June 1 2019-05-06
ART Derrick Woods-Morrow collecting underwear for exploration of labor, play 2019-05-06
THEATER REVIEW One for the Road 2019-05-05
THEATER FEATURE 'Foolin'' around on Broadway 2019-05-04
Griffin Theatre Company presents "For Services Rendered" 2019-05-03
THEATER REVIEW Too Heavy for Your Pocket 2019-05-03
SPOTLIGHT 2019-05-03
Critics' Picks 2019-05-03
Hedwig and the Angry Inch cast announced 2019-05-02
THEATER REVIEW Hamlet 2019-05-02
THEATER REVIEW The Children 2019-05-01
THEATER REVIEW First Love Is the Revolution 2019-04-30
Hamilton The Exhibition blows into Chicago 2019-04-30
Two Days in Court 2019-04-29
Now and Then musical a love story of two men, four decades 2019-04-27
THEATER REVIEW Non Playing Character 2019-04-24
THEATER REVIEW Hannah and Martin 2019-04-24
THEATER REVIEW Language Rooms 2019-04-24
 



Copyright © 2019 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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.