Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
May 17 - June 20, 2009
The Steppenwolf Garage
1624 N. Halsted
The Walls experiencing the treatment of mental illness through history. So many things worked for me in this production from the start, walking through a gallery of colorful paintings in juxtaposition with entering the theatre and its stage of oversized stark white frames. A powerful cluttering of whispering in the beginning and ending of the play to mark the start and finish of one crazy ride. And the best part: the cast.
A strong cast with four out of the five main actors effectively translating crazy in each's own individual style. My fave had to be Meighan Gerachis playing the artist Virginia. In a pivotal scene, Gerachis is dripping in sweat with lipstick schmeared. She delivers her crazy rant a few feet from my seat and I was uncomfortably fearful that she had indeed snapped and was coming through the fourth wall to allow death to imitate art. Next, Tara Mallen playing Alice was superb. A full range of crazy starting with a monologue suggesting Alice is an ordinary housewife with a temper that is not acceptable for the 1930's and ends with a lobotomized timid, confused robot. Playing Jane, Danica Ivancevic impressively physically transforms her face from pretty to distorted, crazy ugly in her portrayal of a "cutter" in the 1880's. I thoroughly enjoyed Mierka Girten as Lucy. Girten, as a modern day crazy, was most relatable. Everyone has a "Lucy" in their life. Someone who magically brings any party to life and ensures its a crazy fun time but who ultimately comes down in a messy implosion that needs to be cleaned up (little nod out to my good friend Taya!). I struggled with Lacy Katherine Campbell as the main character, Carrie. I'm not sure why. Was it played a little too screechy for my taste? Or was it because I didn't like the seemingly non-crazy character? Maybe I wasn't suppose to like Carrie. Or maybe in general I just like crazy people best.
The Walls: A tribute to the evolution of thought as women are committed to asylums for their noncompliant behavior over the decades. A disturbing premise, as throughout the play, I continued to ask myself "at what age would I have been first committed?"
Last words from my play sidekick: Bill describes The Walls as powerful and dark with strong acting.
Waiting For The Show
On a gorgeous Friday evening boasting 85 degree temps, we opted to dine al fresco at Bilgers. Bilgers is a neighborhood fave because of its private garden complete with a Japanese Maple and fresh herbs. There is a limited view of activity on the sidewalk for people watching but the real draw here is the tranquil and comfortable feeling. One of the owners insisted I smell cuttings from his sage and thyme plants while the other ensured my wine glass was topped off. Although the french fries were soggy, I enjoyed my portion of the cheeseburger and who doesn't like $8 in coupons making the cost minimal?
Post show, we strolled down Halsted to The Black Duck. The Duck has a cozy, upscale lodge-look where we scored a table by open french doors in the front. Sipping a nice Malbec was a perfect way to recap the play and conclude the evening.