Saturday February 24th 2018

“After The Revolution”

Part of the “Mission Statement” of Next Theatre Company, is to produce art that is socially provocative, artistically adventurous and thought provoking. Their current production, “After The Revolution” in its Midwest Premiere, accomplishes all that and more. Written by Amy Herzog, who bases a great deal of the story on her own family history, this is an entertainment piece that is also a history lesson ( with theatrical license of course) dealing with  the tale of three generations of Leftists Activists, who find that all they  had believed to be factual is not!

Directed by Kimberly Senior, who has been very busy of late, on a masterfully designed set by  Keith Pitts, we get to meet the Joseph family. It is  a very special day in their lives as Emma ( solidly played by Christine Stulik) has graduated from law school. Emma has been involved in human rights and has set up a foundation to help bring minorities, those who don’t have equal rights, the opportunity to state their cases. Being very proud of her grandfather, she has named this foundation in his honor. What happens during the telling of this story is that we find out ( with Emma) that all she believed to be factual about her grandfather, what she had based her ideals on her entire life, was in fact, a lie!

Her grandfather had been “blacklisted” during the Hoover Presidency for being a Communist. As a history lesson, the American Communist Party, was quite powerful back in the early 1900’s. Their goal was equality for all, jobs and justice. Due to persecution, many members, hid their alliance and despite learning of the horrible things Stalin did, stayed members in the party, hoping to accomplish the goals they had set out to reach. In this story, Emma finds out that what she had grown up believing was not real and this causes a rift between her and her father Ben (deftly handled by Mick Weber- probably his best work to date).

The tension grows stronger between her and all her family members as well as with her boyfriend Miguel ( Marvin Quijada) a Puerto Rican who shares her ideals and also graduated with her and is now employed with her foundation. With the tension of the truth being exposed, and Emma’s confusion, he leaves her, wanting to continue her work, but probably not their relationship. Her grandmother, or should I say, Step-Grandmother Vera ( marvelously played by MaryAnn Thebus) is a key in trying to set Emma straight and her uncle Leo ( Phil Ridarelli) and her sister, Jess ( Dana Black) also try to keep this uncomfortable situation from destroying the work Emma has started. Even, Mel, her father’s lady ( Tasha Anne James) attempts to clear up the matter so that Emma and her father can become what they were before the facts became public.

One of the highlights of this production is Morty, an elderly man who knew her grandfather and has designs on her step-grandmother. Morty, has his own guilt trip of not being there during the day and now, is willing to leave all of his wealth to the foundation, partly to make up for his non loyalty during the hearings and partly because he feels the cause is a good one, and just maybe, Vera, will give him a second look. Morty is played to perfection by Chicago legend Mike Nussbaum. His two scenes are an education for any young actor who feels that they want to get into the business, and show why he has been on our stages for some fifty years.

This production is well orchestrated and almost choreographed by Director  Senior, as the one set becomes many locations and the stage crew moves in and out with furniture changes as the actors move about the stage to keep our focus away from the changes being made. There are many scenes and lots of changes and yet, they are hardly noticeable and never detract from the telling of this heartfelt, yet comical story of a family facing some major challenges, forced to review the legacy they have believed for many years. Family is of great importance and so is honesty. Can we as individuals forgive and forget new facts as they affect our memories of those we love and adore? This is part of what “After The Revolution” gets to and while the story ends abruptly, it is the right way to do it!

“Revolution” will continue at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center located at927 Noyes Street ( just East of Ridge) in Evanston through May 13th with performances as follows:

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

There are also Saturday afternoon performances at 4 p.m. starting April 21st and the Thursday,April 26th performance will be a gala with special events included at a special price ( call 847-475-1875 ext 2 for more info).

Tickets range in price from $25-$40 with special subscriber and student discounts and can be purchased at www.nexttheatre.org or by calling Next at 847-475-1875 ext 2.

* Sunday Talkbacks. Every Sunday, after the performance, a discussion with artistic staff members and artists involved in the telling of this story will host “Talkbacks” and in many cases, special guests will be there to moderate discussion on the topic- this should be quite an experience for young and old.

There is a running time of two hours on this production including a 10 minute intermission and plenty of free parking as well as easy to get to by “L” ( Noyes stop of the Evanston “el”)  

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