A Red Orchid Theatre Re-Creates 70’s Sitcom
Perky music from Brando Triantafillou fills the dark theater with a 70’s feel.
Then the lights open on Sigrid Sutter playing Connie and Christina Gorman as Linda—two roommates waking up to a post-party mess. If you weren’t in the Red Orchid Theatre where you know that nothing less than the top shelf acting makes it to their stage, you might think their dialogue is clunky and delivered more like lines in a high school play. Then as their repartee brings these characters into better focus you realize they ARE these clunky personas. Connie is cut in a Gracie Allen airhead cloth, spewing non-stop commentary on religion, sex, her shopaholic ways and more.
Linda reminds of that borderline creepy sex-obsessed cheerleader character on Saturday Night Live. They are BFFs with mean girl undertones but most of all a hoot. Enter Brad (Nick Mikula)- and do know he makes quite the entrance—a refugee of sorts from another apartment in the building— who in short order becomes the replacement roommate the two girlie women seek.
Laugh Out Loud Funny
Thanks to David Adjmi’s script, you will find yourself laughing out loud both when the punch lines are delivered and then here and there as your absurdity meter registers another click. It feels TV sitcom, as it is meant to.
The amazing Lawrence Grimm—who has made everything from apes to religious zealots real on the Red Orchid stage—is the landlord who makes you want to bathe in antiseptic the more you get to know him. His zany wife played by Jennifer Engstrom in a Bozo-Marries-Lucy wig (Costumes: Myron Elliott) makes panic attacks so side-splitting funny yet charming you’ll end up wondering why TV Sitcom writers never thought to have a character like her before. The cast is rounded out by Steve Haggard as gold necklaced open shirt swinger neighbor Terry, who reminds some of us about how confusing it was to hear characterizations of Tom Jones as sexy.
With director Shade Murray’s touch to make this a campy laugh fest, the black hole of hyper-realism that we stumble into as the story unfolds hits hard. Adjimi’s alchemy starts with youthful libidos, the-predator-next-door, post traumatic stress syndrome before it was named, and then adds more to bottle the early 70’s zeitgeist when illusions of innocence were melting.
Technically, the Stonewall Riots may have already occurred and though it was similarly unnamed, gender fluidity found its person in the likes of Tiny Tim, and female competition was usurped by sisterhood-is-powerful. Metaphorically speaking though, 3C captures THE moment when somebody rips the covers off Ozzie and Harriet’s bed.
If you can’t brook campy this isn’t your show. For the rest of us this is one fun farcical romp through a 70’s time capsule.
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 4
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM
Sundays 3 PM
A Red Orchid Theatre
1531 North Wells