Tip: If you can, grab a seat on the sunken living room couch.
…but wherever you sit, know you are up close and personal.
Rage, flirtations, fast-flowing satiric wit, sadness, and self-loathing— this and more spills out of playwright Mart Crowley’s pen, and the proverbial closet where mainstream culture circa 1968 kept gay men. Historic though this play may be, perhaps the greatest power of Windy City Playhouse’s immersive theater style production is to make it SO vivid that it pokes anew at your assumption that that was then, and this is now.
Windy City Playhouse Invites You to the Party
In true Windy City Playhouse style, a few drinks are served to you as you join the party. These characters are drinking far more than you—lacing it with some Alice B. Toklas lasagna. The party’s host, Michael (Jackson Evans), is a bit of a mean drunk who breaks his abstinence streak and becomes ringleader of a sort of Truth or Dare game. One after another, we learn the stories of these men, and how their hearts break, or were broken. Their culture is thick with narcissism, but it's Crowley’s ability to cut through that and make their humanity real. That is the earthquake of this script. More though, in this writer’s view, it’s the stellar cast that Windy City Playhouse has assembled that makes this production so compelling. While all the actors are superb, William Marquez’ Emory—a character whom the dominant culture of the time would describe as a pansy— especially makes us want to weep.As you ruminate on the play you too may realize just how much Evans’ Michael is the glue. That said,all of these performers are so perfect that you too will likely forget they were acting. They let us meet people, not just characters in a script.
You too might think that there is a lack of realism to the party game premise. Most of the time, most of the cast has to sit out on the sidelines as one or another takes their turn in the spotlight. Perhaps this immersive setting gives them far more room to do so than a traditional set might otherwise. It more than works, in this writer’s view.
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.
Sam Bell Gurwitz as Harold, Christian Edwin Cook as Alan, Jordan Dell Harris as Donald, Jackson Evans as Michael, James Lee as Larry, Kyle Patrick as Cowboy, Ryan Reilly as Hank, Denzel Tsopnang as Bernard and William Marquez as Emory.
William Boles (Scenic Designer), Uriel Gomez (Costume Designer), Erik Barry (Lighting Designer), Sarah Espinoza (Sound Designer), Mealah Heidenreich (Properties Designer & Set Dressing), Max Fabian (Violence & Intimacy Diretor), Jenniffer Thusing (Production Stage Manager), Spencer Fritz (Assistant Stage Manager), Jonah White (Master Electrician), Jonathan Schleyer (Technical Director) and Ellen White (Production Manager).
Running through April 19, 2020
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and
Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Windy City Playhouse
3014 W.Irving Park Rd.