Recommended *** There are some awkward moments in the life of a reviewer. Tonight, I watched a play that had some wonderful performances and a wild and warm story, that was also filled with humor and mystery. The play is the Chicago premiere of “Apartment 3A” written by actor Jeff Daniels. The play is about a young woman, Annie ( a wonderful portrayal by the very sexy Eleni Pappageorge who I would give a ***** for her performance) who has just experienced one of the worst days of her life. First, she walked in on her boyfriend making love with another woman on her grandmother’s dining room table, then she had an episode “on-air” at the TV station where she is employed and now, she is moving into an apartment overlooking what she terms “a slum”! That is the start of this two act, two -hour play that is finely directed by Ron OJ Parson.
For those of you who know the Windy City Playhouse, this is one of the “black-box theaters” of Chicago that allows them to set the stage and seating differently for each production. They do the stage area on the floor and have seating on risers , leading away from the stage area. Thus, some people are sitting, albeit it in the coolest of chairs, on the floor, while others are elevated. There are some times, due to the configuration, that sight lines can appear to be blocked, but for the most part, Parson, controls this and keeps this to a minimum.
What happens to Annie after her move-in is a love story, of sorts, that is filled with some mystery. Not wanting to divulge some of the events, I can tell you that Annie meets her mysterious neighbor Donald, who keeps telling her that he is married and madly in love with his wife, who at present is in Rome. Donald (deftly handled by Daniel Smith) is quite the smooth operator and implores Annie to just be his friend, and not to fall in love with him. They become very close as she talks to him about one of her co-workers, Elliot (gloriously played by Jose “Tony” Garcia) who is madly in love with Annie.
As we watch the relationship between Annie and Elliot blossom, under what appears to be the tender touch of Donald, we see the differences and why they can say that “opposites attract”. And yet, the romance seems very real, or does it? As I said earlier, there is a great deal of mystery in this story-telling and one might get lost in the first act, if not careful. In fact, there were many who at intermission felt that this play was not going anywhere. There was even one who left. Shame on them! They missed some great comic moments in the starting scene of the second act and a story that came out a bit late. The opening of the second act is amazing and very funny, BUT, also a bit, or maybe even more than a bit, RISQUE!! This play may be better off being a 100 minute story with no intermission so that we do not lose sight of the characters and the story-line. Just a thought. There are two other characters in the show; Tony (Wardell Julius Clark) the TV station engineer and Dal, the landlord (Peter DeFaria, who truly proves that there is no such thing as a small actor- he does wonders with his small role). This is in many ways, Annie’s coming to terms with her life, her love, her soul and perhaps her beliefs. The power of love is defined by the action of this story.
The Windy City Playhouse shows have very little in the way of sets, but designer Jaqueline Penrod, uses her space to perfection. There were some moments when action takes place between the walls of the entry and the sliding pocket doors that lead into the Apartment 3A where sound became muffled, but the use of the set from Apartment 3A to restaurant and studio was smooth and effective. Eric Backus added the sound and music, and Jamie Karas assembled the many props. Costumes were handled by Kristy Leigh Hall, and Jared Gooding finished off the tech side with his lighting. I did notice several lighting fixtures hanging above that were not part of this production, and thought perhaps they should not be in place for this show.
“Apartment 3A” will continue at Windy City Playhouse, located at 3014 West Irving Park Road thru December 18th, with performances as follows:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tickets range from $25- $55 and can be ordered at 773-891-8985 or online at http://windycityplayhouse.com/
There is street parking (some metered, some not) in the area and plenty of small pubs to grab a bite. The theater has a full bar with some specialized drinks and you can bring your drinks into the theater. In fact, the seats have tables right there for extra comfort.
To see what others are saying, visit http://www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Apartment 3A”