Editor's Note: Read the companion review of BEYOND CARING by labor lawyer Jon Karmel here--- one of the first "Authentic Voices" authors now penning Picture This Post articles about cultural offerings through the lens of their professional or life experience expertise. Look for more of these "Authentic Voices" in the ZEITGEIST section of our pages.
Lookingglass Theatre Company stirs intense emotions with the U.S. premiere of Beyond Caring. This peek inside bleak conditions is crafted with brilliance. It is natural, real, and, at times, chilling.
Nights in the Life
The play focuses on a cleaning crew working nights at a sausage factory. Each character brings his or her own backstory, which the audience is meant to piece together. This minimalistic style reflects the reality of “getting to know” people who share very little. There is no shying away from the darker issues of race, class, family, depression or physical disability.
Immersive and Jarring
Lookingglass Theatre Company has ignored nothing in its successful attempt to keep you in this world. The audience walks into the theatre through plastic sheets, as if entering a real factory. The smell of disinfectant permeates the theatre. Upon entering the theatre, the audience is immediately put directly into this almost nightmarish world of depression.
Harsh fluorescent lighting, filthy floors and all the usual flyers and posters you would see posted in a factory workspace confront you. This is not the type of play that creates ANY kind of separation between audience and actor. You are a part of this world and it is unrelenting. Boundaries simply do not exist.
Director Alexander Zeldin has accomplished creating a new reality within this work. He has been working on this piece since Spring of 2016, when he began conversations with organizations that work with temporary labor force in Chicago. This dedication is clearly evident in the finished production.
This small cast contains no weak link. Each actor embodies his or her character so fully that is a surprise to see them emerge as different people during curtain call. The world created by these unbelievably talented actors persists in your mind until you are physically out of the building.
Ensemble member J. Nicole Brooks and Edwin Lee Gibson brilliantly portray two very different characters both dealing with the same sort of inner turmoil. Each of them, however, deals with the sadness in wildly different ways. Brooks portrays Tracy with great intensity. Gibson, in contrast, uses a subtle and heartbreaking tenderness in his remarkable portrayal of Phil, the veteran of the cleaning crew with a painful past. The entire cast serves the story well. When the audience gives a standing ovation, you feel the cast deserves even more.
Top Pick For: Lovers of Reality
Not recommended for: Those seeking escapism
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.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
March 22 - May 7, 2017
Thursdays 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Saturdays 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Sundays 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Lookingglass Theatre Company
821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson
$40 - $75
Student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with a valid student ID. Based on Availability.
Groups of 8 or more patrons save up to 20%. Call 773-477-9257 Ext. 125 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Online at www.lookingglasstheatre.org
By phone at 312-337-0665
Production contains adult sexual situations, language and nudity
Post-Show Panel Discussions following Sunday matinees. Free and open to the public.