Week 52: So Long, Farewell
The time has come for us to stay goodbye. This last week of our three-hundred-sixty-five day journey we went out with a bang focusing on monumental goodbyes. From angels, to lovers, to sinners, parting as they say is such sweet sorrow.
#TheatreCrushThursday was given to Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble. #FollowFriday went to Awakenings and Semicolon Bookstore.
Now, for one last time let's go!
The Farewell is a beautiful time capsule of a Chinese-American family. Balancing comedy, poignancy, and drama, it's a well-paced snapshot into a lived in dynamic. Director and writer Lulu Wang fervently has an appreciation for her actors. The way her female characters get to vent moments of frustration or have a moment of silence is breathtaking. Awkwafina shines as Billi, the source of resistance to keeping a family secret hidden instead of bringing it out on the table for all to know. It's interesting to examine American ideologies especially when it comes to handling sensitive topics. And that ending, truly heartwarming. How Wang's personal life transcends into this story is incredibly touching.
Jersey Boys brings hit songs, but feels beaten down by its own story. Guessing a screen adaptation seemed inevitable, it just seemed like a lot of what I don't need from a musical adaptation. The songs felt short although still were bops, some of the writing felt like it could work onstage, but felt more cheesy on screen, and it felt like ultimately this wanted to be a mob movie yet they had to tell a story about The Four Seasons. Also, it was alarming that all these men were Benjamin Buttoning as they're supposed to be youngsters yet are apparently far older in real life. It's beautifully shot and the acting is for the most part solid, but not enough of an investment in its story and its characters make it a flimsy adaptation.
Schitt's Creek is far from shitty. The Rose family gets a dose of their own medicine as all their riches are stripped from them and they're forced to relocate to a hum drum town. This fish out of water story unfolds over several seasons where this family breaks down and experiences some growth, which arguably they never would have done otherwise. It's a fairly strong acting ensemble with Eugene Levy as a concerned, yet posh father, Dan Levy as a particular, honest son, Annie Murphy as a self-loving, life of the party daughter, and matriarch mother, Catherine O'Hara who goes through as many emotions in a day as she does wigs. Providing comedy from a traditional sitcom scenario sans laugh track isn't easy. While the first season feels like it's finding its footing, the inevitable love and community support that's bound to be on the horizon makes it promising to tune in.
Angels in America receives an adaptation of heavenly proportions. With nearly a dozen stars and six hours, it's worth making time in your schedule. Especially in kicking off the new year, it's a great way to set it off right. As millennium approaches, so does 2020. Watching this series made me realize how much I love this play and wish companies would do it more in rep with its sequel. It has a lot of great humor, unique, strong personalities, and has some of the highest stakes on par with a Greek tragedy. It's also queer AF and deals with an America that feels lost. What play could be more relevant to produce right now?
Today for you, tomorrow for reading our latest recap. Or you can just check it out now. You won't want to miss it.
Bridget Jones' Diary is a romantic comedy that thrives from chaos. At every turn, Bridget can't seem to get a win. Even when she gets a minor victory, it either doesn't last, or it somehow makes her look or feel even worst. I did find her relatable at times like when she can't find the right thing to say or goes for the guy that obviously is the opposite of what she needs. But it does take a toll, and cruelty has its limits or so one would think! At a point, it feels like Bridget is beaten down to a point that goes beyond being funny, and just sad. It's good to see she has a supportive group of friends and it does away with protagonists in romantic comedies only having one designated best friend. Renee Zellwegger provides a great performance, Hugh Grant innately plays a great douchebag, and Colin Firth is a saving grace as a realistic, yet respectable love interest.
It's been a year and we wanted to highlight the moments that made it count most. We gathered up a selection of works that shocked and impressed us. See our thoughts now as we reflect on this year in Chicago theatre.
Since the Angels in America limited series covers both of its two plays, we're giving it another day of recognition. After Millennium Approaches and into Perestroika, it's easy to see why a sequel was needed. The first play sets up a lot of exciting dynamics and we need a lush, labored finale set over three acts to tie up those loose ends. What hit me this time when watching the conclusion of the series was how I was able to find affection for characters that I found to be less captivating than my favorites (Belize, Prior, Harper, you know the greats). I really dug Hannah this time around and her sudden relationship with Prior that develops into a genuine friendship. Louis is notoriously my least favorite character in Angels and I think I eventually adopt a Belize attitude for him where he's ignorant, but harmless, and you can at least attempt to debate him. Love these plays and would honestly love to see this be taken to the big screen.
Our last day comes from our last recap that you're reading now. Thanks for coming along for the ride. We'll always remember the online time we spent with you.
Will we cherish this journey? Always.