Pulitzer Prize-winner, Annie Baker, dissects human behavior through the microscope of an acting class with Circle Mirror Transformation, the title of which is taken from a classroom theatre game intended to generate trust, teamwork, and connection. Instead, tiny wars of epic proportions are waged, and the six-week class transforms into a cascade of epiphanies and dashed hopes.
THE CAST (in alphabetical order)
Adam Bitterman (James), Talia Payomo (Lauren), Lynda Shadrake (Marty), Michael Sherwin (Schultz), Emily Tate (Theresa)
Understudies: Nick Dorado (Schultz), Julia Kessler (Theresa), Emma Maltby (Lauren), Robin Margolis (Marty), Jim Scholle (James) Understudy Performance: Tue, May 9, 7:30pm
Scott Weinstein (Director), Hannah Dawe (Assistant Director), Mary Brennan (Stage Manager), Kaitlin Smrcina (Assistant Stage Manager), Elyse Balogh (Set Designer), Daniel Friedman (Lighting Designer), Karli Blalock (Sound Designer), Kotryna Hilko (Costume Designer), Parker Blackston Ryan (Props Designer), Jan Ellen Graves (Graphics & Marketing), Manuel Juan Ortiz (Technical Director), Catherine Miller (Dramaturg & Casting Director), E. Malcolm Martinez (Box Office Manager), Charles Bonilla (Box Office Associate), Johnny Garcia (Box Office Associate), James Fleming, Jan Ellen Graves, & Michael Colucci (Producers)
Opens: Sat, April 15, 3pm (note: there is no evening performance on opening day)
Showtimes: Thu, Fri, Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 3pm
Closes: Sun, May 14, 3pm
Running Time: Approximately 110 minutes, no intermission
Previews: $15; Wed, Thu, Fri, Apr 12, 13, 14, at 7:30pm
Understudy performance: Tue, May 9, 7:30pm. $20 (seniors & students $5 off)
Tickets: Thursdays, $30; Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, $35 (seniors & students $5 off)
Redtwist is located at 1044 W Bryn Mawr, 2 blks W of LSD, 2 blks E of the Red Line EL station.
Valet parking for Redtwist is available across the street in front of Francesca's Bryn Mawr for most performances-hours vary. Dining is not required.
Limited FREE street parking is available on side streets. There is metered street parking via ParkChicago.com app or 3-hour Paybox on Bryn Mawr Av and 2-hour Paybox on side streets. Free on Sundays, and after 10pm Mon thru Sat.
"Attention must be paid," Arthur Miller pleads in his Pulitzer Prize winning play "Death of a Salesman." What is now required reading, "Death of a Salesman" asks its audience to consider the worth of one pathetic old man. The play debuted in 1949, at a time when America was coming out of a war and questioning the value of personal fulfillment. For that theme alone this play will always be relevant.
The intimate space at Redtwist Theatre makes for an overwhelming experience. In many of the scenes there's an almost voyeuristic feel. As if you're in someone's living room listening to something you shouldn't. Director Steve Scott uses this atmospheric effect to create a palpable intensity. After the lights go out on the final scene, an audience gasped in unison.
Brian Parry delivers a powerhouse performance as Willy Loman. Both tough and weak at the same time. His Loman is still feisty, making the ending all the more tragic. Jan Ellen Graves' Linda Loman is played calm and collected and rarely sentimental, but lively when the moment is right. Matt Edmonds gives a standout performance as Biff. There are such revelations in Edmonds' interpretation.
Like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller knew America. He knew the sad and melancholic ways average people live. "Death of a Salesman" should make us uncomfortable. We should bristle at the idea of one average man getting used up and thrown away. It's a warning that if you don't take control of your own destiny, society will toss you aside. Willy Loman skirts through life on quick fixes and delusions. In a way, all of us are Willy Loman and Miller asks us to look beyond the superficial. As "On the Road" had also inspired a younger generation to live life differently than their parents, so does "Death of a Salesman." The moral here is that nobody wants to end up as Willy Loman.
Through March 5 at Redtwist Theatre. 1044 W BrynMawr 773-728-7529
It is with a heavy heart I confess that I cannot recommend the play Eroica. David Alex’s melodrama is not without merit or redeeming character – but for most people it will probably not be worth spending 70 minutes to extract them.
The story is compelling and worth telling: during the height of the Vietnam War, college was a refuge for young men wanting to avoid being drafted. A nascent war resistance movement was not widely embraced, and the “average American” at the time viewed “draft dodgers” with suspicion.
This was especially so in small towns in the Great Plains states, where Eroica is set. Playwright Alex is dead-on in rendering the details of the story of that time. America has not yet relinquished its perception of itself as an ever-righteous world savior, honed in World War II. But the war in Vietnam is not going well. Better-off young men go to college, or join the Army Reserve – as did President George W. Bush – to avoid the military. Its ranks swelled with the less affluent. Some young men fled to Canada, others ended up conscripted.
Alex’s story turns on a champion high school basketball coach, Victor (Felipe Carrasco) young enough to be in the Army, but who has somehow earned a medical deferment from the draft. The action, and plot, turns on one of his former charges, Charles (Garrett Young), a top basketball player, who was kicked off the team by the coach after he tore up a house in a rowdy party. This ended Charles's chance at college, and he has received his draft notice. He stalks the coach and his family as he exacts his revenge.
I’ll avoid revealing the spoiler, in case you want to see it. It is moderately entertaining. But the language of the characters is just a tad too formal. And there are some elements that are unexplained: why does the coach’s sister, Grace (Sarah Koerner), a major character, walk with a cane (or for that matter, why she is even in the play). Other elements get too much explanation: the play’s title, Eroica, is from Beethoven’s symphonic work (and the play is set during his 300th anniversary of his birth), which was first dedicated to Napoleon, then the dedication was scratched off when he named himself emperor. We hear even more about Beethoven, far more than we need to.
Here’s when we must ask whether director Maggie Speer might not have pushed back a bit on the author, to make the work more playable by the actors – who all did really good work, but needed to have better orchestration. One example: during the dramatic crescendo, in a battle between Victor and his wife Sally (Sara Pavlak Macquire) the stalking basketball player Charles who has sown these seeds of discord sits in the audience's focal point, center stage, munching pretzels and drinking beer. Charles also spends an inordinate amount of time rustling through documents while other characters aren't around. And the banter about basketball while technically precise is inaccessible and excessive for most ticket buyers.
While commending the effort here by the cast, this is a case where the playwright probably gains more from the production than the rest of the parties involved, including the audience.
Eroica is being performed at Redtwist Theatre thru August 7th.
In a cramped police station in Southern France, a handful of men argue about why they were picked up for questioning. During the Nazi occupation of France in WWII, Germany left Vichy to be governed by France. This didn't exempt the zone from mass deportation of Jews living on false papers. Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy" explores the dark themes of a region living in fear, holding a mirror up to our own time.
With direction by Ian Frank, Redtwist gives a faithful production of Miller's under-produced 1964 one-act. Redtwist's best asset from show to show is the intimacy of their performance space. For a claustrophobic play like this, a better space couldn't be found. There are almost as many cast members as audience members and when the room is full, there's an inherent sense of panic.
White men arguing is pretty often seen in mid-century theatre. Usually it's a vehicle for expressing the playwright's world views. "Incident at Vichy" is a play of its time period. That's not to say Arthur Miller's words aren't chillingly relevant. As each character in question slowly divulges the reasons they may be sent away, they prioritize their own right to life over their neighbor's. In those passionate monologues, Miller cuts right to the heart of human nature, which is sometimes primal.
With a large cast and a short play, it's unusual to have so much character development. The ensemble distinguishes themselves well. The play hangs on a stand-out performance by Jeremy Trager as Von Berg (an Austrian nobleman). His character is the only one who seems to express empathy and guilt about what's happening to the people around him. David Giannini and Tim Parker balance out the cast as Bayard and Leduc and turn in strong performances as well.
"Incident at Vichy" is a story of people living in fear. It's a cautionary tale of what can happen when people are apathetic. With all this history, it's shocking in America that some would-be politicians are touting mass deportations of minority groups. To that end, Miller's play has never been more essential.
Through January 10th at Redtwist Theatre. 1044 W Bryn Mawr. 773-728-75329
What can be said about a play as often produced as 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' With every company that takes on this landmark play, a new audience is given the opportunity to spend an electrifying evening with George and Martha. As legend has it, Mr. Albee is quite stringent about his work and demands absolute faithfulness to his scripts for fear of being shut down.
It would be impossible not to consider the Steppenwolf's 2010 Tony Award winning revival of 'Virginia Woolf' when discussing Chicago's relationship with this play. Any theatre company producing this play will rightfully have some serious competition. Though, under Jason Gerace's direction at Redtwist Theatre, you wouldn’t know it.
What Gerace and Redtwist have in their favor is an intimate performance space. For nearly three hours the audience sits among the living room furniture at George and Martha's. When the drinks slosh and the one-liners fly, it’s the audience who must shift to avoid getting hit. To that end, this highly atmospheric production feels more alive and certainly more first-hand. This is not an easy script to decipher, each line is almost a world onto itself, and it can be easy to zone out in the recesses of a large theatre. Here, the dialog seems very navigable, so as the intensity heats up it seems to unfold naturally.
Given the challenge of such intricate language, there's an inherent sense of staginess. Its sense of reality is thereby heightened by exceedingly articulate dialog. Jacqueline Grandt's Martha is just plain mean and the way she slithers through her cutting monologues is almost scary. Though her glimmers of fragility in such subtle gestures as watering eyes and quivering lip are hauntingly tragic. It underscores the character's emotional instability. Brian Parry plays George as the co-dependent husband who has reached his breaking point. The calm timbre of his voice never loses it's comforting sound even as he's putting the finishing touches on Martha and their guests. He's able to play it in the way that these characters get exactly what's coming to them. His triumph is very satisfying.
The parts of Nick and Honey can honestly be what makes or breaks this play. Their characters are largely only there to fuel the fire. Elizabeth Argus is pretty spot-on as Honey. Her look brings to mind Elaine from "The Graduate" and when she's called upon in a moment of dark revelation, she delivers. It's not easy to play fake drunk without coming off as a cartoon character. Argus is very believable as she stumbles through glass after glass of brandy.
Redtwist Theatre has a very competent production on their hands. Grandt and Parry really understand their lines and because of that, both turn in rich performances that quickly cut through the melodrama. The artistic staff at Redtwist has also made this production pleasing to the eye in costume and set design. If you need another night with George and Martha, this is a storefront revival not to be missed.
Through October 11th at Redtwist Theatre. 1044 W Bryn Mawr. 773-728-7529
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