Have you ever danced with a sub sandwich?
Neither have I, but apparently it can be quite the eye opening experience for some. Especially for one late night sandwich worker so caught up in her job, she ends up dreaming of this mystical sandwich! This moment is only one of many interesting ones in the AMERICAN HERO sandwich shop.
First Floor Theater’s Average Joe Shop
The story of AMERICAN HERO is one that takes a snapshot of ordinary people’s lives and enhances it to show more detail. For three people down on their luck, working at a sandwich place was not their first choice in jobs.
These three - a nineteen year old trying to get by, a single mother, and an ex-Bank of America employee - are the most unlikely of people to band together to try and save said sandwich shop. When their manager goes missing and supplies are running low, Sherri, Jamie, and Ted need to come up with a way to stay open in order to keep themselves employed!
The story is told in the intimate black box theater at The Den. The set and props designs by Jeffrey D. Kmiec and Claire Stone make us feel like we’re sitting rinkside (so to speak) watching the events unfold inside this makeshift sandwich shop - linoleum floors, sandwich fixings, and all.
The Best of the Best Sandwich Makers
The four members of the cast are what elevate this story from a mundane tale to the triumph of the working class hero. We start with manager Bob played by Brian McKnight. He’s a strict by the book kind of guy (example: all sandwiches must be made in 20 seconds or less and you best believe he pulls out the stopwatch to make sure!).
When Bob disappears, McKnight then gets to exercise his transformational acting skills by becoming a slew of other interesting characters from a guy from corporate to the aforementioned dancing sandwich.
The three sandwich “artists” Sherri, Jamie, and Ted are played by Saraí Rodriguez, Annie Prichard, and Chris Daley. They are all skilled at bringing these characters to life.
Rodriguez is a hoot as the perpetually tired Sherri adding a pinch of sarcastic, monotone wit to the mix.
Prichard plays Jamie with the perfect devil may care attitude who believes life has dealt her a crap hand.
Daley perfects Ted’s relentless, optimistic, boss’ pet attitude, but turns endearing as he tries to make up for his past mistakes.
We see the softer sides of all these characters as we realize each person has more problems beneath their surface than we originally thought.
A Not So Perfect Ending
Where AMERICAN HERO has mixed feelings from this writer is the so-so kind of ending. It’s one of those shows that doesn’t drastically bend to either a comedy or a tragedy. Instead, the ending takes a very mellow turn where we’re not entirely sure what will happen next with these loose ends. It makes sense for this play reflecting these ordinary people’s lives, after all nothing in life ever works out perfectly. But many of us will miss the feeling of completeness by either being super happy or sad for these characters at the end.
So, if you like to have a clear cut ending when you walk out of the theater this one might not be for you. However, if you like a story that deals with down to earth issues complemented by realistic portrayals of people, AMERICAN HERO is a good show for you.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Now through June 3
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm.
Note: There will be three added performances: Monday 5/22 at 7:30pm, Monday 5/29 at 7:30pm. and Saturday 6/3 at 3pm.
The Den Theatre
1333 N Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622