Friday September 22nd 2017

” A Walk In The Woods”

Recommended Timeline Theatre Company is one of our leading smaller companies, continuing to present stories inspired by history and connecting these stories to today’s social issues. Their current  offering, “A Walk In The Woods” written by Lee Blessing, takes us back in time to 1984 as negotiators from Russia and The United States , who are at odds in bringing to the table an “arms” resolution that both powers can agree to, take meetings away from the bargaining table to meet “in the woods”. This was written as a two person play with both negotiators being men. In this version Skillfully directed by Nick Bowling, the Russian is a female. Anya Botvinnik ( played with great warmth and feeling by Janet Ulrich Brooks) has been at the table in Geneva for many years. Her new counterpart, John Honeyman ( deftly handled by David Parkes) feels that these walks in the woods are mere diversions to keep the USA off their game. He has no desire  to spend as much time as previous negotiators have ( with no success), but as the seasons change and these two powerhouses learn more about each other, we learn that while they are supposed to be negotiators, in reality they are diplomats. We watch as they deal with their bosses instructions, how the rest of the world is affected by the “treaties” they negotiate and how despite their agreement on many o fthe terms, their powers will not ever let a treaty be a true balance of power between the nations.

This is based on real events between Paul Nitze and Yuli Kvitsinsky, who did take walks in the woods in order to escape from the pressures of the press and the task at hand. While one would anticipate that a play with this storyline might be “talky” and “boring”, it is far from this! In fact, with the talented cast and solid direction, these two characters become people that we know and care about. Yes, we learn of political ploys and situations that are upsetting 9 and I am sure very costly), but these people have the job of making it appear that both World Powers truly wanted to make sure that the rest of the world would never exceed their powers. As time went on, and discussions continued, other nations began to develop and purchase nuclear weapons as well. This made it difficult to resolve the issue at hand. How could these powers trust that once a treaty was in place, some new weapon, not written in the treaty, would come into play, making the entire treaty worthless in the eyes of the world.

While I found the events to be a wonderful story, I was far more impressed by the ability of the director and the  actors to tell the story. Having one of the characters be a female made for a little more tension between the characters.Almost two hours of talking between these two characters felt much shorter and was most entertaining and enlightening. Once again, Timeline has put before us a  theatrical experience. They are using an alternate stage for this production as they will be opening  a Lee Hall  play, “The Pitmen painters” on Wellington ( their mainstage) in September. Theater Wit located at  1229 West Belmont- Theater 1, will be the home for “Woods” through  November 20th. Theater Wit contains three very intimate stages and this production is made for a smaller theater. The set designed by  Brian Sidney Bembridge ( who also did the lighting) is a bench with trees and screens in which projections of the seasons make us feel that we are truly in the wooods. The projections by Mike Tutaj are magical. The music and sound by Andrew Hanen enriches the total picture painted by Blessing and Bowling,

The performance schedule for this production is as follows:

Wednesday and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $34-$44 (students with ID get $10 off) and can be purchased by calling the Theater Wit box office at 773-975-8150 or visit www.timelinetheatre.com

There are post show discussions on 9/4, 9/15,9/18,9/21,10/6,10/9 and 10/12 where you can talk with the staff and actors.

 

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