A living room, with a Frank Lloyd Wright feel. The middle of the room is sunken down, like a 70’s-chic evil lair, with two evenly placed grey chairs flanking a bulbous jade glass vase. Inside of it, a tiny splurt of a white bouquet, the entire apparatus placed on a trunk trunk finished coffee table. A barely noticeable bar area is seamlessly slotted into the dark mahogany shelves, with a couple of glasses, again, evenly placed and centered. The room is also speckled with various artifacts, assuredly the products of trips abroad, Chekov’s pottery among them. With light jazz playing in the background, and the audience slowly and genially entering and taking their seats, everything is perfectly in its place. Unfortunately for the family residing in this living room, things will be far from perfect very soon.
“Let Us Not Pretend”
Edward Albee’s Tony Award winning script tells the story of man torn apart by the consequences of his actions, or more specifically, by how his family and friends react to said action. Let’s not beat around the bush here: the action in question here is bestiality, and it doesn’t take long for Albee to reveal it. Sylvia is Martin’s new flame, and when Martin reveals his affair to his longtime best friend Ross, everything starts to crumble. Using the repetition and forgetfulness that fills our everyday lives, Albee dismantle the idea of taboo, and forces the audience to question both their definitions of love and their ethical limits.
It’s a tense evening at Rivendell theatre, so those looking for more light-hearted entertainment might want to sit this one out. However, fans of Aaron Sorkin’s fast paced intelligent dialogue, or even Black Mirror’s thought-provoking and mind-boggling scenarios, shouldn’t miss this.
Interrobang Theatre Project Faces Sylvia Head On
In this writer's estimation, the entire cast of Interrobang’s production does a solid job of keeping the audience’s attention. Throughout the performance, bored would be the last thing this one would feel. Tom Jansson as Martin is a constant conundrum, and rightfully so. One moment he might be reaching out to his wife with the utmost gravity, and the next he’s making an inappropriate joke about his son being gay. The most relatable thing about Martin is that which we should be abhorred by, and Jansson mostly keeps that balance. Elana Elyce as Stevie is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and has several particularly sizzling snaps at Martin that this viewer would not dare spoil. With so much repetition in the script, it is a difficult task to make this 90 minute tragedy tolerable, and to earn it’s ending. Perhaps there were times that this performance could have benefitted from more rehearsal, but for the large part, the ensemble gave nuance to their roles and performances that anyone looking for skilled acting would be impressed by.
Setting Up Sylvia
There is truly some great work being done on the technical side as well. The set design by Kerry Lee Chipman particularly featured a detail that was refreshing and aptly suited for a plot that so quickly unravels. Though the audience is placed in a traditional way (proscenium style), the railways along the sunken living room center provide some interesting stage pictures, that director James Yost plays with to much effect. It is clear to this reviewer that the minds behind this production have crafted something with care and intelligence. The conversations with friends after the play are reason alone to add this to your weekend.
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.
Kerry Lee Chipman
Thursday, September 13 – Saturday, October 6, 2018
Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm: Sundays at 3 pm
5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago