A greenish blue and white rectangle anchors the center of Otherworld’s intimate Alchemist Lab. You may notice a set of futuristic space helmets hanging on one wall as you take your seat.. If you’ve done your pre-show reading, you know that this immersive black box has been primed for some good, ol’ fashioned teenaged hijinks in space.
“Please stand by for results.”
Four teenagers living in a station on Mars - where they’ve apparently lived their entire lives up to this point - await results to a kind of space-aged, aptitude test. Positive results mean increased access to information and greater responsibility - a rite of passage - but for now, they must wait. To pass the time and alleviate nerves, the kids engage in a series of long-form improv games called simulations, complete with props and costume pieces provided by their disembodied A.I. proctor, Marvin. The kids brandish toy pistols, don bathrobes and engage in delightfully arch histrionics. Playwright/Sound Designer Alexander Utz has penned a unique tale that this reviewer will describe as The Breakfast Club by way of Muppet Babies.
Otherworld Theatre Ruminates on the Nature of Family
Marvin - perhaps so named to amuse any attentive Looney Tunes fans in the audience - has the dual presence of surrogate guardian and older sibling. The kids have apparently known one another since they were very small and the specter of lost parents who may or may not return hangs over the proceedings, generating energies at once macabre and hopeful.
“The point is, it’s making us happy!”
Like the 2004 Detroit Pistons, this was not a cast built around one or two stars, rather Director/Scenic Designer Bec Willet has crafted a tight ensemble of strong, sensitive listeners and the result was - to the mind of this particular reviewer - a charming sense of genuine, familial camaraderie. Special mention must be made of Martina Logan’s deceptively intricate futuristic costume design. The warm maroon tones provided a nice counterpoint to the cool/neutral tones of Willet’s set.
“Don’t you forget about me!”
You too might find that a fair amount of the dialogue lacks the swing of natural talk, but once you allow yourself to get swept up in the concentric insights brought about by each progressive simulation, you may find yourself enamored with, and rooting for Denver, Erica, Alan and Trish.
GENERATION RED is recommended for all audiences, in particular fans of thoughtful science-fiction and John Hughes flicks.
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.
André Sampson (Alan), Bo Armstrong (Denver), and Alyssa Ratkovich (Trish) and Erin Ellis (Erica).
Bec Willet (Director & Scenic Designer), Ben Carne (Lighting Designer), Tiffany Keane Schaefer (Stage Manager & Production Designer), Martina Logan (Costume Designer), Kris B. Lantzy (Assistant Director & Props Designer) and Alexander Utz (Playwright & Sound Designer)
Thru February 2, 2020
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 2:30pm.
Runtime is approximately 90 minutes
3914 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60613
About the Author:
Spence Warren is a Filmmaker, a Film Worker, A Musician, A Puppet Maker and - apparently - an occasional reviewer. He hopes to offer people - particularly those who love story in all its forms - valuable insight and perspective.