Have We Been Here Before?
Jose M. Diaz-Soto‘s set demands attention upon walking into the space. It looks as if it could be most alleys in Chicago due to the walls being painted to look like bricks, the posters hung over them are also very telling as they’re full of liberal ideas. The TWITLER posters featuring Donald Trump that resemble the Barack Obama era red and blue HOPE posters seem to be in the most predominant spots but the stage left poster of woman with a hand over her mouth with the words “Where is my vote?” also helps to paint a very telling picture of a blue state. Because the set dressing works so well in creating this alley behind a store, it’s almost magical when an ordinary corner of the stage is isolated in light to become a different place with something like slabs of fake concrete repurposed to help sell the idea that we’re somewhere else.
While the play isn’t set in Chicago, but rather a fictional city in Illinois, it’s hard for some of us to separate the two. The play features five complicated characters that all believe they have a strong moral compass, or at least tell themselves that their actions are for something greater. They all sound like people we know and /or at least interact with on a daily basis on the surface. However, characters we root for fail us and characters we write off have many more layers than we could ever imagine. The realistic world created in The Wolf at the End of the Block is one of the more intriguing parts of the 16th Street Theater Production.
16th Street Theater’s Production of The Wolf at the End of the Block
Ike Holter’s dialogue is fun and realistic, which allowed the actors to come across as exceptionally relatable for most of the performance. On opening night, there were still a few moments where lines were tripped over, but as the show went on everyone seemed to find their footing and did much better when they were allowed to interact with their fellow actors. Supporting actors Tony Santiago and Christian Isely particularly standout in this production and their scene together is intense and haunting.
The cast is amazing at building tension in one on one situations. Yet, for this writer, the climaxes of these strong scenes were repeatedly lost when a monologue is inserted that brings the relationship between characters to a halt. During these monologues, the rest of the stage would go dark and the other actors would freeze (for the most part). The music used to underscore these monologues was also, for this audience member at least, a bit distracting as it sounded like the same loop for most of the production.
Who is this Production For?
This play is recommended for those who are seeking an unexpected view on police brutality. While this production isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as was the case for this writer, it can’t be denied that it’s a very timely script (and production) that deserves a place somewhere in the current conversation. While this reviewer isn’t sure exactly what side of the argument this play falls on, and maybe the point of the script is to make the issue less black and white, it’s nice to see a production weighing in on this particular point in history.
Thru May 19th, 2018
Thursdays 7:30 PM
Fridays 7:30 PM
Saturdays 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday Matinee April 15 at 3:00 PM
16th Street Theater
6420 16th Street,
For tickets visit the 16th Street Theater Website
José Manuel Díaz-Soto
About the Author
Sharai Bohannon is a playwright, and an avid theatre practitioner, who is very excited to write about most things but especially Chicago Theatre. She has a background in journalism and technical theatre and is excited that those degrees will be put to use in a way that gives her an excuse to leave her couch and brave this “outside” that people keep telling her about. When not on her couch watching TV, she can be found working one of her multiple jobs and/or hunting down a happy hour near you. Read some of Sharai Bohannon’s New Works on New Play Exchange.