Red Theater AN OAK TREE Review – Puzzling Layers of Theatre

An actor stands alone onstage, preparing for the start of the show. He changes into his costume, moves furniture around, and takes a sip of water.

The house doors close and the show begins.

An audience member steps from their seat onto the stage to join our first actor.

This isn’t your regular audience participation. This is the beginning of a carefully crafted theatre experience where one actor has rehearsed the show and the other hasn’t even seen the script. AN OAK TREE is an exploration of not only a story, but blurs the lines of human experience.

Red Theater Hosts a New Actor Each Show

AN OAK TREE calls for one actor to know everything that happens in the show and for a second to have prepared nothing at all, learning the show the same time they are performing it. For this reason, no two shows will ever be the same as the second actor is a different person each performance.

AN OAK TREE explores many different theatrical layers - first with Wallace directing the second actor how to react to joining him onstage, then diving into their performance as a hypnotist and a man connected through tragic life events. The lines become blurred as soon we’re not sure when they are performing the play or when they are themselves as two actors.

Talented Artists

AN OAK TREE explores an interesting theatrical format that gives our actors a chance to flex their acting muscles and improv skills. Wallace works the crowd with his charm and well-timed humor, handling both his hypnotist role and directing role with practiced ease. Our second actor for this evening, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, dives into this role without hesitation and creates a character out of thin air.

Red Theater AN OAK TREE

The two have an incredible level of trust in each other, only having met an hour ago. Though it may take some time to sort out how these two characters relate to each other, they work together to create a connection between these two people.

While the format might be out of the ordinary, AN OAK TREE is a great show for anyone who likes their shows to be thought provoking and wants to see a show that goes outside the standard theatre formula. For those who enjoy a more light hearted or traditional theatre experience, this one might not be for you.


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.


Hypnotist…...Gage Wallace
Second Actor…..
November 1st – Dana Black
November 2nd – Stephanie Shum
November 3rd – Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel
November 4th – Alejandro Tey
November 5th – Terry Bell
November 9th – Adithi Chandrashekar
November 10th – Kevin D’Ambrosio
November 11th – Katy Collins
November 15th – Isa Arciniegas
November 16th – Carolyn Hoerdemann
November 17th – Richard Cotovsky
November 18th – Omer Abbas Salem
November 24th – Niko Kourtis
November 25th – Eric Gerard
November 26th – Mike Tepeli
November 30th – Echaka Agba
December 1st – Tina Muñoz Pandya
December 2nd – Aja Wiltshire
December 6th – Kurt Chiang
December 7th – Avi Roque
December 8th – Ayanna Bria Bakari
December 9th – Debo Balogun


Director: Jeremy Aluma*
Assistant Director: Jen Sloan
Set & Props Designer: Alex Casillas
Costume Designer: Hailey Rakowiecki*
Lighting Designer: Abby Beggs
Sound Designer: John Nichols
Dramaturg: Ashley Brenon
Production Manager: Liz Larsen
Stage Manager: Michael Starcher
Producers: Aaron Sawyer*, Marisa Lerman*, and Anna Rachel Troy


Now through December 9, 2018
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 6:00 pm
There are two additional Monday performances on November 5 and November 26 at 7:00 pm. There are no performances on November 8, 22, 23 or 29.


Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657


Tickets can be purchased through the Red Theater website

Photos Matt Wade

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

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

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