peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2014 09 27 SeasonOnTheLine

The House Theatre: Season on the Line at the Chopin Theatre.

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I bought a Goldstar ticket for $16.50 ($4 to them) almost a month ago, largely because I'd been wanting to go to the Chopin Theatre on Division at the Polonia Triangle pretty much as long as I've been in Chicago. I think I picked the right production to go to. Their foyer is full of theatrical bric-a-brac, evoking some of the old world without being overstuffed with it. The ticket was a random page from Moby Dick, stamped by the upbeat box office girl. I bought a couple of ┼╗ywiec bottles, $5 each, one before the show and the other at first intermission, and found them to be light and agreeable. The alternative was Pabst in a can.

The play itself is long, at three hours. I can say it made me even less likely to read Moby Dick. The main stage is a large room with seating on all four sides, which sometimes lead to substantial occlusion. A review at the Reader. The whole thing is terribly meta, but still a lot of fun. Many in the cast crank up the histrionic apoplexy, especially Andy Lutz and the eventual Ishmael Thomas J. Cox. The narrator/neophyte assistant stage manager Ty Olwin lithely segues between the dramatic incidents, evoking Ed Norton from Fight Club at times by remaining somewhat calmer than his colleagues. Ah, to be paid a flat wage when others have gone all-in! — though I think my purple Amoeba-San Francisco tshirt is so much cooler than his beige one from Hollywood. Unfortunately Marvin Quijada does not get to apply his excellent vaudeville skills here, though there certainly was room for it. Maggie Kettering does well in the just-say-yes/I-must-say-no role of the stage manager. Danny Bernardo had a lot of fun as the bartender. Some of the get-ups were hilarious. The treatment of racism in Gatsby was over-the-top. I'd never heard of the second production Balm in Gilead and so probably missed half the jokes in the midsection. Reviewer Sean Sinitski evoked Ebert for me: the suits, the what-can-I-do honesty. The rest of the cast had their moments too, but I have typed enough.