The Ttile of the very Special Event” at The Goodman is hard to make sense of. “2666” is a five-part “Novello” based on the book written by Roberto Bolano, adapted by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley to be performed as a World Premiere on the stage of the Owen Theatre of The Goodman. It is an epic portrait of the world we live in and how the artists fits into this world. The performance that I was witness to was an amazing, albeit long journey into the world of literature, crime and love as told in Bolano’s novel. I must tell you that it is more of a theatrical experience than a story-telling experience with five distinct parts. The actual meaning of the “2666” never comes out, but the original novel is a culmination of themes and obsessions of the author Bolano.
We first meet the Academics, played with grand style by Sean Fortunato, Lawrence Grimm, Demetrios Troy and Nicole Wiesner. They discuss the German artist/author Benno Von Archimboldi. Each of these “academics” loves his work and his passion and it is their quest to reach an impossible dream and find this man. As they bond with each other, in academic ways as well as romantic ways, we get an insight into the world they live in. During the five parts of this play (in one can call it a play), we travel to Mexico and to Germany, learning about the Amalfitano family ( a superb character portrayed by Henry Godinez as Oscar and Alejandra Escalante as his daughter Rosa. We also meet his ex-wife Lola ( Charin Alvarez, who also plays a myriad of other roles) and learn of her leaving her husband and daughter for the love of an artist.
If you have read the original novel, you will need to learn no more here, as they follow the story-line very close. If you are not familiar with the work, I do not want to spoil the mystery and story for you, so I will say that the five stories combine to bring us to a solid conclusion where we learn how the pieces of the puzzle fit. Each story has a beginning and an end, but it is not until we get to the 5th part that we see the fit of all the others. Part One runs about one hour and 15 minutes, followed by a 20 minute intermission. During that time, the floor tiles are changed, the set becomes a back yard in a small house in Mexico, where there is a serial killer.
We now watch Part Two as we learn about the aforementioned Amalfitano family and about fate, as we learn about the crimes that are happening in this small, very poor town in Mexico. After these portions of the production, still remaining in Mexico, after one hour and ten minutes and a fifteen minute intermission, we watch Part Four- “The Part about Crimes”, where over another one hour and five minutes , we learn more about these terrible crimes being committed and the lack of police working the case. We do, however, find a young German man who is placed in prison as the person who has killed hundreds of young girls.
After another twenty- minute intermission, where once again, the stage floor tiles have been changed, we begin Part Five; “The Part About Archimboldi” which gives us his history from the tiny Prussian town where he was born, through his years of doing the tasks and jobs he does. Here is where I will not say more as it is important to have some surprises in this theatrical adventure. This is a thrilling experience that while not for everybody, having seen it, will be something you will treasure forever. The adaptation by Falls and Bockley works beautifully as does their direction. The Owen is the smaller of the two stages at The Goodman, and can be set-up in many fashions. For this particular production, the audience is looking straight on and while there is no curtain, they do have a large movie screen that comes down between segments do they can transform the stage area with no onlookers (although a few did sneak-a-peek). Walt Spangler’s set is amazing as are the lighting effects (Aaron Spivey), the costumes (Ana Kuzmanic), the sound and original music (Richard Woodbury and Mikhail Fiksel) and the projections (Shawn Sagady). This production utilizes film and live action together in a solid way that captures the attention of each and every audience member. BRAVO!
What makes this special production so special is the dynamic cast that Falls and Bockley have assembled. Many of these are regulars at The Goodman and surrounding theaters. There are also a number of members of the Teatro Vista Theatre Company, a Chicago Latino Equity company that does some great work. The 15 member cast brings us 80 different characters. In addition to Messrs. Fortunato, Grimm , Troy and Godinez and Ms.Escalante, Ms. Alvarez and Ms. Escalante, we also have Janet Ulrich Brooks, Yadira Correa (six roles), Sandra Delgado (six roles), Eric Lynch, Mark L. Montgomery (three major roles), Adam Poss (four roles), Juan Francisco Villa ( four roles) and Jonathan Weir ( five roles).Due to the quality of work from these actors, we are never confused about which character they are. That is solid acting!
While I am sure there could be a few places to trim and cut in this long experience ( total play running time 4 hours and 35 minutes with 55 minutes of intermissions), if you plan out your visit it should not be a burden. I suggest that you bring a “survival kit” with you. A small bag with a juice box, several power bars ( unwrap and place in a plastic baggie) and perhaps a half sandwich as well. What you should not do is bring chips and other items that make noise and open them during the performance. This is rude. If you bring a beverage, the same is true. The intermissions are long enough to make the trips that might be needed and to take in some vittles. May I also suggest, if you are not waiting to hear from someone who is ill or God-forbid dying, turn off the cell phone and leave it off!
“2666” is only here thru March 13th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 6:30 p.m.
Thursdays 6:30 p.m.
Fridays 6:30 p.m.
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.
Sundays 1 p.m.
Tickets are $20-$45 ( a true bargain for theater of this quality) and can be purchased by calling the Goodman box office at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org/2666. This is open seating.
The Goodman Theatre is located at 170 N. Dearborn Street (between Lake Street and Randolph) and easy to get to by public transportation.
There are some special events- visit www.GoodmanTheatre.org/LCelebration for Latino Artists celebration. March 5th at 4 p.m. there will be an in-depth conversation with the directors and Dr. Hector Garcia. $10 fee
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “2666”