Weeks 12 & 13: Secrets & Seduction, Dark Comedies
We are back and better than ever. In the midst of hot reviews and hotter takes, it's time to look back. Shows were sizzling and laughter was found in the most unexpected and darkest of places.
#TheatreCrushThursday included Nothing Without a Company and Pop Magic Productions. #FollowFriday featured Plz Be Careful, Women and Children's Bookstore, CommunityCave Chicago, and Chicago Minority Actor Database. Let's get steamy and silly in these dramatic shenanigans!
Writing takes time. I need to keep reminding myself this. I think my ability to pull off a piece I'm proud of requires a process that might differ from other writers and that's okay. I think it stems from turning in assignments in high school or college where I completed them the night before and had to sit with the guilt of not feeling like it's my best work. I'm glad to recognize I care enough about my work to put my best virtual foot forward :)
A trip can be eventful, especially when it goes off the map. Prop Thtr's 2 Unfortunate 2 Travel definitely was a trip. There was elements of fun with throwback vacation vibe tunes, games, and stories told by exciting means. Devised work I feel is the most innovate, and often most divisive in terms of its reaction for an audience. While I admired its efforts and the variety of performances, I think questioning the source material and who is heading the adaptation are always important to keep in mind. Behind the curtain truly shapes what ends up in front of the curtain, and is especially felt in devised processes.
To be or not to be? The Martin's 12 Ophelias tells a different account that is all pleasure, and everything's coming up Ophelia. This production was visceral for many reasons. One in particular being that it was performed by an all-female ensemble and creative team. The original production had male cast members in male roles, and we all know how Shakespeare in his time strictly had all-male troupes. It's a reclamation of not only a narrative, but also Shakespeare, and the art of storytelling.
Every day is a good day when Queer Eye is back. While some of our pop culture obsessions can be exaggerated or feel like too much, I'm always ready to see the return of these five on my screen. I definitely understand the valid criticisms that it's five guys and there isn't representation for the term queer to include transgender, non-binary, or lesbian in the core cast. I do appreciate that the term is included in the people they meet and are trying to help. It could be incredibly easy for The Fab Five to assert their dominance and cis privilege, but I appreciate their hands off and judgment free approach where they are not so much experts than a support system.
Jacaranda Collective showed that they and Chicago theatre may in fact belong together. My Name is Rachel Corrie is a solo performance feat of endurance and historical curiosities. It's a snapshot of a young, female activist against all odds trying to advocate in a post 9/11 world and at a time where Israel/Palestine tensions are high. Rachel Corrie's work is admirable and has a story worth telling, no matter if you agree with her political views or acts of resistance. While Corrie and the play have been criticized, it's nice to see a theatre welcome the challenge of producing a controversial work.
Secrets, secrets are so fun when shared with everyone. Theatre Y's Self-Accusation is clever in terms of its devising process. It takes a text originally written for two people and transforms it into a more modern, resonant piece. The perspective is shared by nine ensemble members and allows for a span of gender, age, and race. It also allows for division in one ensemble member becoming on the outs consistently throughout the piece for the rest of the ensemble to hammer in a societal mob mentality. It takes what could be considered a dated text and perspective, and makes it more relevant than the original source ever could.
12 Ophelias delivers on what it promises in leaving you wanting more. There's a reason we consciously have to cut sugar out of our lives. Or if not sugar, our other addictions like coffee, alcohol, carbs, people. All that sweetness feels forbidden and you just want to indulge sometimes. This show explores what happens when we indulge, especially into patterns we've weaved and worn before. It's possible to change, but sometimes you gotta hit rock bottom or in this case, drown, to return to above the surface.
Always thankful for friends and the future. Our recap of the past two weeks is up now! If you love your girls golden and future femmetastic, you won't be disappointed.
Woof indeed. From watching two brothers watch a porn together to later events of violence against women, there's a lot to watch here. It felt like a battle of endurance in this world of video games, crap food, and a poorly treated dog. The world of teenage boys is never one I truly care to take part in from having been subjected to it for far too long growing up. I'm not sure if there's a way to make stories that deal with white fragile masculinity important versus compelling to watch. A lot more to unpack here at a later time.
Sometimes you need to unwind with a good book or play. I always look forward to reading new plays. It's such a welcome treat, like Christmas has come early. Don't forget to pick up a new play every once in awhile.
Reviewing shows on complex subjects are one thing and on complicated historical figures are another. Putting into perspective the story that the play presents of Rachel Corrie versus the actual Rachel Corrie against the white noise of critics and advocates was exhausting. I've never had to do so much research to supply context for how simply mounting a production constitutes of. I definitely felt pushed to my limits of how there was critique I couldn't provide without some additional reading. While I felt pushed to my writing capabilities, I was pleased with the final result. Herland was a heartwarming delight to take the edge off in the evening.
Chill is definitely not the word that comes to mind with Santa Clarita Diet. It's definitely a show that tries to live by its humdrum, suburban setting, but the genres applied to it of horror and sci-fi will not let it be. This mismatching leads to hilarity and beautiful reality of the growing pains of relationships. I've never seen relationships like friendship turning into romance and marriages that make it work literally against all odds depicted so well on television. While its premise can feel cheesy, there's emotional beats and laugh out loud humor that make this show worth tuning in.
It's shows like this that make writing reviews easier. Not because The Ridiculous Darkness is by any means easily digestible or isn't varied in complexities, but because it's a glorious production. Similar to Theatre Y's Self-Accusation, it takes a text that could be construed as out of touch with audiences today and makes it extremely relevant. The ideas of colonization, racial equity, and the image of a happy ending we hold onto versus the reality we live in are all embedded here so well. Sideshow Theatre Company continues to deliver pressing, incredibly awakening work that is like nothing you've ever seen.
What happens when you're tasked to review a show that's impossible to describe? Find out here. Theatre Y's Self-Accusation is unfathomable, and just might be one of the most necessary shows to see this year.
See you soon!