peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2014 11 16 HappyDays

Theatre Y: Happy Days at Saint Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Logan Square.

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Goldstar ticket: $10.00 + $3.75 service fee = $13.75. I was reluctant to go as I'm not a huge Beckett fan, which was well proven by Hellish Half Light. A review in the Reader tipped it. I schlepped up on foot from Noble Street via a totally-packed Filter Café, and the Sultan's Market. Sub-zero cold, yes, and rainy, of all things.

This is essentially a one-woman play, and Melissa Lorraine is superb as that woman. Buried past her waist in Péter Szabó's CRTs, LCDs and at least one ancient iMac, she ably demonstrates what it takes to keep body and soul together in these (and those) times of vacuous modernity. The second half is rapid-fire absurdism and less of a pretence that she is succeeding, which is somewhat distressing given her isolation. Melissa's ability to juice the repetitive dialogue for effect, especially humour and later pathos, is mesmerizing. I regret missing her Medea from earlier this year, despite it being a year of many Medeas. Her husband (Evan Hill) provided some able support with his nineteen lines and several falls. The sound (again by Péter Szabó) is immersive. The video segments were from real life.

Afterwards Melissa stepped down and cornered us all for a talkback, which they term "barrack dramaturgy" (coined by the director Andráz Visky, resident in Transylvania). Clearly still fired up by her performance, she ably disarmed the audience by discussing the material clearly and articulately, again with Evan's support. She made me regret not coming earlier in the season — apparently their interpretation has changed a lot in response to experience, and that would have been something to see. Wisely they passed the hat around at the end of the night, and so I got to pay $20 for the brewed-in-Holland Heineken that came gratis at the start of the evening. I took the blue line L back.

More plaudits from Kyle Whalen at the Chicago Stage Standard. I'll certainly go to whatever they do next.