Theatre in Review

Set in the 18th century French countryside, First Folio Theatre vividly brings to life Joseph Zettelmaier’s “The Man-Beast”, a romantic, yet frightening, tale just in time for the Halloween season. The final installment of Zettelmaier’s horror trilogy, “The Man-Beast” follows first works “The Gravedigger” and “Dr. Seward’s Dracula” and, staying true to form, steadily builds in suspense from its first scene to the story’s climactic ending. Staged ever so appropriately inside the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook, theatre goers are in for a spooky treat that is as sexy as it is haunting.

When a werewolf ravages the countryside, no one is safe. A trail of blood leaves local villagers dead along with an escalating amount of livestock. It is then that King Louis XVI puts a bounty on the beast in the hopes the threat can be eliminated once and for all. The villagers believe the beast to be Loup-Garou, the legendary werewolf who has terrorized the countryside in the past.

The story begins when trapper Jean Chastel bangs on the door of Virginia Allard. He is hurt having suffered a bite from the beast that he believes he has killed, though the animal seems to have vanished. Allard lives alone in the forest, her house decorated with dead animals that she herself had stuffed, her kitchen shelves cluttered with bottles of herbs, wood burns in her fireplace creating a flickering glow throughout the room. The “Witch of the Woods” as she jokingly calls herself is not one to take chances as she carries a large hunting knife on her person.

After Allard tends to Chastel’s wounds we see a tumultuous relationship between the two develop, as well as a plan to cash in on the large reward. But both are cautious and struggle to trust each other, having been betrayed in the past. We wonder if either will hold true to their word.

Filled with mystery, suspense and mounting sexual tension, “The Man-Beast” works well thanks to its powerful cast of two, Elizabeth Laidlaw as Virginia Allard and Aaron Christensen as Jean Chastel. Laidlaw, whose theatre credits include Steppenwolf, The Goodman and many others, is nothing short of sensational offering several scenes filled with an electricity that would be hard to match. Laidlaw’s counterpart, Christensen, also puts forth a fierce performance and the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Hayley Rice skillfully directs this classic piece, strategically getting the most in the play’s finishing touches from a talented artistic team that includes Angela Weber Miller (Scenic Design), Christopher Kriz (Sound Design), Rachel Lambert (Costume Design) Vivian Knouse (Properties Design), Rachel Flesher (Violence Design) and Julia Zayas-Melendez (Stage Manager).

Played with much ferocity and passion, the performances we get from Laidlaw and Christensen are alone well worth the price of admission. When you add a story that is sure to engage even the most casual of horror fans from beginning to end and a creative set that visually takes us miles away and so easily nudges our imagination in just the right way, we are presented with a production that has all the ingredients needed to promise a thoroughly entertaining theatrical Halloween event.

Highly recommended. *Parental discretion is advised due to a handful of racy scenes.

First Folio’s “The Man-Beast” is being performed at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook through November 5th. For tickets and/or more production information, visit www.firstfolio.org.

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Just in time to get you in the Halloween spirit, Akvavit Theatre is pleased to present GHOSTS & zombies, by Henrik Ibsen and Gustav Tegby, in a new American translation by Chad Eric Bergman*, directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch*. This dark and hilarious contemporary Swedish twist on Ibsen’s Norwegian classic Ghosts, will play September 28 - October 29, 2017 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 1, 2017 at chicagonordic.org
 
GHOSTS & zombies will feature Marsha Harman as Mrs. Helene Alving, Victor Bayona as Chamberlain Alving, Jeremy Trager as Pastor Manders, Joshua K. Harris as Carpenter Engstrand, Micah Kronlokken* as Osvald and Almanya Narula as Regine with and ensemble including Jessica Kearney, Dylan M. Lainez, Madelyn Loehr*, Christiane Schaldemose, Erik Schiller and Tyler Skafgaard.
 
GHOSTS & zombies puts a blood-curdling spin on Ibsen's classic drama, Ghosts. As in the original, Mrs. Alving is preparing to open an orphanage in her husband's memory, while welcoming her son home from a long absence. However, things soon take a turn for the weird and scary as their country estate becomes overrun by the un-dead. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, Mrs. Alving now finds herself confronted by zombies that she is forced to stand and fight. GHOSTS & zombies shows us that we can try to bury the parts of our life we would rather forget, but we cannot control whether they walk again – slowly, hungrily – in our direction.
 
The production team for GHOSTS & zombies includes: Chad Eric Bergman* (set design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), David Goodman-Edberg (lighting design), Nigel Harsch* (sound designer), Leticha Guillaud (properties design), Kirstin Franklin* (casting director), Bethany Weise (asst. costume designer), R&D Choreography (violence design), Christiane Schaldemose (music direction), Chris Waldron (asst. director), Amy Hopkins (production manager), Harrison Ornelas (technical director), Hannah Harper-Smith (stage manager) and Katy Grabarski (asst. stage manager).
 
PRODUCTION DETAILS:
 
Title: GHOSTS & zombies 
Written by: Henrik Ibsen & Gustav Tenby
Translated by: Chad Eric Bergman
Directed by: Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch*
Cast: Victor Bayona (Chamberlain Alving), Marsha Harman (Mrs. Helene Alving), Joshua K. Harris (Carpenter Engstrand), Jessica Kearney (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Micah Kronlokken* (Osvald), Dylan M. Lainez, (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Madelyn Loehr* (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Almanya Narula (Regine), Christiane Schaldemose (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Erik Schiller (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob), Tyler Skafgaard (Youth Ensemble, Zombie Mob) and Jeremy Trager (Pastor Manders).
 
Location: Strawdog Theatre Company,1802 W. Berenice, Chicago
Dates: Preview: Thursday, September 28 at 8 pm
Regular run: Saturday, September 30 – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm. 
Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular Run: $25. Students/seniors/industry $15. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 1, 2017 available at chicagonordic.org.
 
*Denotes Akvavit Theatre company members.
 
Akvavit Theatre is also pleased to announce the addition of new company member Madelyn Loehr and associate company member Maggie Fullilove-Nugent.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

 

 

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