Red Tape Theatre presents World Premiere of Queen of Sock Pairing
Sophie Weisskoff’s play follows Celia (Elena Victoria Feliz) – an artist struggling to find her voice both in her professional and personal life. Stuck in a life as a full-time babysitter with no time to artistically create, she initiates a role-play game with her boyfriend, Cai (Aaron Latterell). A story forms out of the dominance and imitation that allows for complete truth in a world of pretend. Slowly Celia begins to form a path to discover what she might need to find happiness.
Directed by Red Tape Ensemble Member Zach Weinberg, the audience is invited along for a wild ride from start to finish. As the lines between real and pretend begin to blur in this fast-paced production, the audience is asked to connect the dots for themselves, possibly even discovering their own truths along the way.
Creative Use of Space
It would not be a Red Tape production without a creative use of an intimate space, in this reviewer’s view. Helmed by Weinberg, the creative team plants the audience in the middle of the action – inviting us to jump between the worlds of reality and pretend alongside the characters.Scenic Designer Nick Schwartz splits the stage into three sections. On one side lives Cai’s bedroom, in the middle is the kitchen of Joan (Brenda Scott Wlazzlo) and her son, Walden (Scot West – the young boy whom Celia babysits), and on the other side lives Joan’s shack – the room which she allows Celia to use as an artistic space. There are three sections of seats within and around these sections of stage – creating the jarring sensation of complete immersion in the story.Characters walk in and out of rooms, and their presence often cues Celia to jump from section to section as needed. As Celia’s lack of control becomes more extreme, the movement between sections quickens, and audience members are forced to remain alert and constantly searching for the next piece of action. The choice is effective – allowing the audience to feel the chaos grow and consume the room.
Learning Through Heightened Theatricality
At the root of this play is the story of a woman trying to find her voice – a sense of agency in a world that is constantly pushing her in different directions. Weisskoff utilizes role play as a mode of exploration not only in Celia’s love life, but also as a way for her to discover what she needs in the everyday. At times the use of role playing becomes a little confusing – with little clarity in some scenes as to what is pretend and what is real. However, that convention also lends itself to a strength in the play – allowing the audience to truly delve into Celia’s journey towards agency and learn alongside the character.
We learn early in the play that Joan and her husband, Jonathan, are separated. The terms are still complicated, and Joan leaves specific instructions for Celia on how to interact with the man when he comes to pick up Walden for dinner – the most important rule being that he is not allowed inside the house. While one might expect the following scene to feature Jonathan picking up Walden, we instead find Cai playing the role of Jonathan. Cai enters the scene, and tries to force his way past Celia. When those attempts fail, the tactics become more sexual – and the power dynamics take over in a different way. Over the course of the scene we begin to see that this particular scene is part of Celia and Cai’s role-play game as she pieces through her interactions with her boss – a realization that Feliz and Latterell aid through their strong performances.
These quick transitions feed into the heightened theatricality of the piece. We as an audience feel Celia’s confusion over her life. While these moments might take you by surprise, you may also find that the puzzle is part of the excitement of the play.
Thought-provoking writing and strong acting makes Queen of Sock Pairing a theatrical event to remember – one that might just keep you on the edge of your seat, anxious to discover what will happen next.
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.
Elena Feliz, Jalyn Greene, Aaron Latterell, Brenda Scott Wlazlo, Scot West
Artistic Director: Max Truax
Managing Director: Ben Kaye
Assistant Director: Isa Ramos
Casting Director: Catherine Miller
Costume Designer: Rachel Sypniewski
Scenic Design: Nicholas Schwartz
Stage Manager: Anna Brockway
Production Manager: Alex Oparka
Sound Design: Erik Siegling
Lighting Design: Ellie Humphreys
Props Design: Kaycee Filson
Intimacy Director: Charlie Baker
Puppetry Advisor: Charlotte Long
Poster Design / Marketing: Joseph Ramski
Videographer / Photography: Sarah Potter
Press Photographer: Austin Oie
Marketing Director: Casey Chapman
Playing through December 14th, 2019
Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 8:00pm
Sundays at 7:00pm
Mondays (Industry Night) at 8:00pm
4546 N Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.
Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.