Is there anything more magical than a summer evening? Lightning bugs flashing, a warm breeze carried through an open window, relaxing with friends. Every summer evening carries a certain whimsical quality to it, but what about the infamous midsummer night’s eve? This particular evening is a night that always comes with a magical air and the anticipation of the unexpected. In Eclectic Theatre’s production of DEAR BRUTUS, their evening is no exception.
Eclectic Theatre’s Dreamy Evening
It’s a mysterious evening for the guests gathered at Mr. Lob’s mansion on midsummer night’s eve. All have arrived without knowing each other very well. They only thing they know is they all have one thing in common, but don’t even know what that one thing is!
We’re just as puzzled as our party guests as to what’s happening. We’re meeting all our characters and understanding who is who, their relationships, and why they’re all gathered here under the perplexing Mr. Lob’s roof. When an adventure is proposed to visit a forest, many of the guests are very confused since there’s no trees in sight for dozens of miles.
Suddenly, the french doors in the sitting room blow open where we see trees appear and alight as this mysterious forest magically appears. The guests are given the choice, do they stay in safety in the house? Or do they step out into the forest and discover why they are all given this same opportunity?
A Hint of Magic
Though there aren’t any fairie kings or love potions in DEAR BRUTUS like in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, there’s no mistaking the wisps of magic that permeate the theater. Written by the same author who wrote Peter Pan, DEAR BRUTUS has the same Neverland-esque feel for adults with a touch of wonder and searching for answers.
The stage has a sense of being carried away as the walls of the mansion fade into the walls of the theatre. And the back half has a darkened night sky above rose bushes giving a sense of the unknown (scenic design by Frank Gasparro). The magic carries through sound effects as we hear taps and dot sounds of magic spells being cast and broken (sound design by Lj Luthringer). They all feed this feeling of being a part of this supernatural night.
Good Mix of Emotions
Overall DEAR BRUTUS is a light-hearted play on the surface, but by the end has more serious themes revealed. Each character’s trip to the forest provides them with a look at what if their lives had taken a different turn; what if their fates were different?
The odd assortment of characters all add their own personalities to the situation - an artist and his wife leaves us wondering how they even got together. A socialite snob has us hoping she’s knocked down a peg or two. An older married couple makes us smile at their long-lasting love. And the younger couple love triangle adds a touch of levity, especially with Jessica Lauren Fischer as Joanna leading the charge as the outspoken lady with the quippy one-liners.
By the end, there’s joy for some of our characters at what is, sorrow for others at what might have been, but for all there are copious amounts of self-reflection. DEAR BRUTUS is a good pick for anyone looking for a quick play that keeps it light, but doesn’t mind a tug at the emotional heartstrings by the end. It might not be the best pick for anyone who is looking for a drama or less whimsical play.
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.
Jessica Lauren Fisher
Jean Marie Koon
Rachelle R Kolecke
Now through October 28, 2018
Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm
The Atheneaum Theatre
2936 N Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
About the Author
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski