Recommended A Red Orchid Theatre, that small intimate theater on Wells Street is known for taking on plays that are gripping and fearless in the small space located at 1531 N. Wells. The intimacy of the venue truly allows the audience to see and feel exactly what the playwright and director want them to see and feel. Their current production, “Becky Shaw”, a Chicago Premiere, written by Gina Gionfriddo, is just what the doctor ordered. This story is one that searches into the basic human feeling and our emotions when dealing with relationships. Directed by Damon Kiely on a cleverly designed set by Stephen H. Carmody) we are taken on a curious ride with the five characters. We first meet Max ( the always reliable Lance Baker, who can make understated, genius) and Susanna ( Jennifer Engstrom) in a hotel room. Susanna’s father has died and Max is there to meet with Susanna and her mother ( deftly handled by Susan Monts-Bologna) to discuss the estate that he left behind. During this scene we learn that Max was raised by Susana’s parents and thus has been a member of the family for over 20 years. Max is a financial planner and while he is a success in business, his life is one of loneliness, except for his love for Susanna.
Susanna is quite dependent on Max, but finds herself married to Andrew ( smartly played by Dan Granata) a would be author who she met on a ski trip and ran off and married. Andrew is a good man with little ambition. He works at a coffee house and invites one of his co-workers, Becky Shaw ( wildly played by Mierka Girten) to double date with Susanna and Max, hoping to lift her spirits. This “blind date” turns into a nighmare as from the very start, Max makes her feel uncomfortable, but they do go to dinner, leaving Susanna and Andrew home. The nigh turns into a nightmare as they are robbed and with emotions high, end up going back to Max’s hotel room.
Becky feels that the date went well, but Max wants no part of her. What is revealed from this one nigh stand and what follows for each of the four characters are changes in their attitudes towards each other and some self exploration as to who they are and what they expect of themselves and others. Lots of secrets are exposed about each of them including Susanna’s mother and her past and present. This is a deep look at personalities, behavioral patterns, love. One of the most memorable lines in this script is that “Love is a byproduct of use”!, meaning that true love doesn’t really happen at first sight, rather over a period of time as the people involved become used to each other and learn to accept each other for who they are.
While Gionfriddo delivers a deep message, there are some very funny situations and the ending is one that will give you cause to not only think about the play, but perhaps your own life and situation. This play has been extended until November 20th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
The running time is 2 hours 15 minutes with an intermission, but this production is so smoothly performed that the time goes very quickly.
To order your tickets, which range in price from $25-$30 ( a bargain for theater of this quality) call 312-943-8722 or visit www.aredorchidtheatre.org