Purple. Orange. Yellow. Green. A spectrum of colors for a spectrum of life is painted in vibrant shapes covering the set (Scenic Artist: Charlotte Lastra). The floor is awash with the same hues in the shape of a game board, but we aren’t playing a casual party game. This is a game show, and as the studio audience, we’re about to witness a literal game of life right before our eyes. Come on down!
Playwright Elaine May’s biting, satirical one-act puts a new spin (or Adaptation, if you will) on The Game of Life, as one lucky contestant (David Hartley) agrees to live his entire life before our very eyes, and according to the rules put in place by the Game Master, aka host (Delilah Lane). From the Contestant’s birth to a slightly unfulfilled life and inevitable death, May pokes fun at the blatant everydayness of ordinary American life through the shallow but compelling lens of a game show. By using the devices and conventions that game shows provide, May illuminates the misplaced value we place in money and items, over people and experiences.
In a 30-seat theatre, Director Tony Lawry’s production is intimate in size, but oddly, not feeling, in this writer’s view. For a game show with a live audience, we, the audience, have almost no role—there is no APPLAUSE sign, for example. This absence was especially evident when juxtaposed with the opening act, when charming and facetious comedian Hope Lehak, established a true connection with us.
Theatre Above the Law Assembles Energized Cast
While the production, in this writer’s view, was littered with pacing issues, a few actors found time to shine. Julia Rowley as Player 2 slipped in and out of characters with incredible ease, and impeccable comedic timing. We watch her come to life as the Contestant’s mother, wife, ex-girlfriends, classmates and more, and each character is completely distinctive. Her Second City background is evident, and a joy to watch. In addition, child actor Delilah Lane as Game Master was certainly amusing, if perhaps she was miscast.
Even with the production’s shortcomings, this play is still recommended for those looking for a fun night of hole-in-the-wall, well-written theatre with up-and-comer Julia Rowley. At only a 60-minute run time, you may as well get your reality TV fix from a campy play by an Oscar-nominated writer.
Ross Compton, David Hartley, Julia Rowley, Travis Shanahan & Delilah Lane
Adaptation by Elaine May
Directed by Tony Lawry
Through March 8, 2020
8pm Fridays & Saturdays,
The Jarvis Square Theater
1439 W. Jarvis
About the Author:
Lauren Lynch is a Chicago-based theatremaker by night and education administrator by day. She has undergraduate degrees in Theatre and English from Austin Peay State University and an MFA in Arts Administration from Texas Tech University. When she's not at work or seeing/creating theatre, you can find her enthusiastically playing board games with friends or stealing cuddles from her dog, Harry Pupper.