Apollo Theater and The Comrades Re-enact and Recreate in ROW AFTER ROW
What happens when a spineless Confederate general, a Jewish deserter from the Union Army and an African-American woman in “Rebel Grey” meet in a 21st Century pub? Go see ROW AFTER ROW and find out!
The Comrades’ production of Jessica Dickey’s play is a portrayal – part farce, part history, part open heart surgery – of two veteran Civil War re-enactors whose annual commemoration of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg is “intruded” upon by a newcomer. This amateur, in a not-so-authentic Confederate uniform and all-too-authentic skin color of former slaves, possesses quite the accurate philosophy of history as well as a lens by which to view the present.
The Apollo Studio Theater, seating just over 50 people, provided an in-your-face look at past events and battles relived in the present – the most important fights taking place within the hearts of the characters and shared by the audience.
Dialogue moves this play, as does emotion – authentic guts, verbalized by high-caliber actors in a well-written script that picks at the gnawing wound underneath the skin’s surface of our own time. The audience is walked across the Pennsylvania battlefield through voice, lighting and the characters’ innate abilities to move from present to past, and back again.
One is left wondering if the characters in the present century have an uncanny ability to see the relevance of the past to their individual stories or if the historical figures in one of America’s greatest scourges possessed clairvoyance and projected themselves a century and a half beyond their present.
In the end, it is unnecessary to decide. The issues raised, the emotions called up and released into the ether are timeless and universal. Targeting racism, sexism, power, senselessness, personal responsibility and redemption, ROW AFTER ROW lays out the human condition and succeeds in showing reality through the stage, Art revealing Life.
Chicago Theatre Week February 8-18
ROW AFTER ROW epitomizes the power of the Chicago theatre scene. Along with the Theatre District in the Loop and the “big stages” throughout the city, this drama is vibrant, visceral and vital to Chicago. Stage performances in the Windy City ignite emotion as they splay the human condition across the area’s small stages. And The Comrades are part of this proud legacy.
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.
2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Thru February 27
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7:30 P.M.
Running time is 70 minutes without an intermission.
Joseph Anthony Rulli is a transplanted Hoosier, living in Chicago since the fall of 2006. A 1987 graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BA, History) and a 1992 graduate of St. Meinrad School of Theology (MDiv) he taught Social Studies, Religion, Philosophy and History at the high school level. He began writing as a career upon his arrival to his second city and has had two short stories published, a stage play performed, an electronic tour book published online and The Chicago Haymarket Affair (History Press/Arcadia Publishing, 2016) his first print book.