Nothing Without A Company Presents CORNERSTONE Review – Unbridled Potential

The moment you enter the gallery in Artspace 8, the setting of this immersive production, you’re greeted by multiple enthusiastic members of Cornerstone, a self-help seminar meets not-so-subtle cult, and given a name-tag along with your program. Before even sitting down, you’re encouraged to take a sip of the daily “Flavorade”, and fill out some paperwork that asked you to “draw your potential” on the back. What followed was an experience unlike anything this theatre-goer has seen before.

Nothing to Hide, and So Much to See

This show is a choose-your-own adventure, opening up the confinement that a normal play provides by allowing you to get up from your seat and follow characters as they run into the lobby sobbing. Brothers arguing over their mommy-issues, an exuberant new-convert trying to get a grip on himself, and a reporter interviewing a Cornerstone higher-up with a tape recorder all happened outside of the central playing space. All one had to do was stand up, grab another sip of Flavorade, and listen to the gossip. You may be handed a Cornerstone manual, only to have it taken from you with a sneaky sleight-of-hand. Nothing was out of the realm of possibility.

Kyle Mundil Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis
Raymond Jacquet and Wanda Jin Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Okay...Maybe a Little to Hide

Though this seminar starts innocently and comically enough, the story quickly takes a turn for the worst. Depending on your level of investigation and participation in the play’s interactive nature, you uncover worse and worse truths about Cornerstone’s activities. As these secrets start to unravel, so do the other attendees. An activist visitor rolls around in ecstasy while her girlfriend tries to force a foam pad into the mouth of a woman that’s trying to have children. The Consideration Managers (as the Cornerstone higher-ups are so-called) are snapping and barking buzzwords and making synchronized gestures as Nestor, another new convert, screams out in horror that Cornerstone “does not condone violence”. Pandemonium is just around the corner in this show, and you’re right in the thick of it.

Nothing Without A Company Has Acting Chops

Before the show began, this viewer made a friend in Nestor (Kyle Mundil), a lively and enthusiastic member who changed his name so that it was an anagram of Cornerstone. Mundil’s performance immediately set the tone for this production, and his journey from naive do-gooder to a man without a purpose, or a sense of what is real, makes this a production you have to see. Several actors were difficult to distinguish from regular audience members, heightening the immersion even more. If you’re looking for a production featuring a strong and committed ensemble cast, Cornerstone is the show to see.

Recommended

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

When

Thru April 29th
Thursday - Saturday at 7pm
Sundays at 6pm

Where

Artspace 8
900 N Michigan Avenue, 3rd Level
Chicago, IL 60611

Cast:

KENYA ANN HALL
RAYMOND JACQUET
WANDA JIN
KYLE LOVETT
JONATHAN MAYO
STELLA MENSAH
SAMANTHA MICHELLE NAVA
CAROLINE SHAUL
DEREK RIENZI VAN TASSEL
DR. PHRANQUE WRIGHT

Tickets

$12.50-$30

For tickets and information visit the Nothing Without a Company website.

Photos

Matthew Gregory Hollis

Creative:

ROSE FREEMAN
KEVIN SPARROW
ANNA ROSE II-EPSTEIN
RAY GOLDBERG
SHELBY KRARUP
JULIA SKEGGS
SARAH COLLONGE
JIMMY JAGOS
BRITTANY ALSOT
WILL BENNETT

 

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

NATE HALL
Nate Hall Photo: Jeff Day

About the Author

Nate is an actor/composer/playwright currently based in Chicago, and originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico. He recently became the first graduate of Texas Tech's BFA Musical Theatre program, and has been acting for over six years, performing in the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, Santa Fe Musical Festival, and soon in the new musical Lucky at Second City. His plays have been featured in one act/ten-minute play festivals, and his musical Fade Out had it's first reading in December 2017.

See his current work at his website or on Facebook

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