Wednesday October 18th 2017

“Black and Blue”

How fitting is it that the playwright ( co-playwright) of  The Factory Theater’s new production, “Black and Blue” is a reporter for WGN Radio, a station long associated with the Chicago Cubs. Nick Digilio, primarily a movie critic, loves live theater and along with Anthony Tournis, has written a story about two brothers, Jake ( played with great zest by Tournis) and Tommy ( deftly handled by Greg Caldwell). Both of these young men have a love for the game of baseball, with only one fly in their ointment- Jake is devoted to the blue ( Cubs) and Tommy to the black ( sox- not to be confused with the name given to the White Sox in 1919). While most of the time they get along, during the games between theses two teams, it is war! Neither will go to the other’s ball park, so when these teams play each other, they are off to their dad’s bar ,Sonny’s.

The bar ( very skillfully designed by Joseph Riley) is very realistic and the two regulars at the bar will bring back memories of Television’s hit comedy “Cheers”, as we meet  these regulars who evidently are almost stuck to their stools ( Peterson and Clavin), who have known these boys, or should I say young men since they were little tykes. The staging ( Digilio handles this as well) is limited by the size of the PROP Thtron Elston Avenue, but I must give credit where credit is due, we, the audience never lost focu on this story and the characters. Many of us root for one team while relatives or even best friends, the other, but in most cases, when away from the game, there are other things that are discussed. These brother can’t!

Their father ( a powerful character built bt Brian Amidei) is a Bears fan, believing that baseball is not a sport for men, while football is. He is a widower, taking care of business and trying to see his son’s truly mature into men so he can feel that he and their mother did it right! In this show, we follow a ten year bet these boys make as to who’s team will best the other. The wager is for an unknown prize  that will be determined by their dad.  As the years go by, we see many other fans visit Sonny’s, some Cubs fans, others Sox fans and along the way, Jake meets Liz ( played to perfection by Laura Deger) who as the years go by becomes his wife. Over the ten years of ” Crosstown Classics” which went from being just an exhibition game to a 6 game series ( two at each park) that count, we see very little change in the boys and their feelings. They are not maturing or growing as people. Can this family survive the rivalry that has kept these two brothers apart and competitive as well? Is it possible that these rivals can change and allow the other to have his choice in teams?

This 85 minute ( no intermission) story will take you on the path that will be correct ( or will it?). Along the way we will meet many other characters played by a strong ensemble; Andrea Wielgus,Tony Rossi, Heidi Grace, Ray Brazaski, Mike Ooi, Blake Dalzin and Danny Reese II. The larger roles are handled by John Moran, Ernest Deak and Zach Bloomfield.. The costumes must have been pretty easy in that almost everyone wors sports team logos and shirts, but the propmaster, Catherine Dughi truly had her hands full- lots of beer choices and other breakable items. This is not a heavy tech show, it is a storytelling experience that will hit every sports nut in the audience. I don’t care who YOUR team is, this story will “hit home”

“Black and Blue” will continue at Prop Thtr located at 3502 N. Elston Avenue through September 3rd with performances as follows:

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. ( $20 ticket) and Sunday at 3 p.m. ( $15 ticket)

these are very low ticket prices for a story that will stir your memories ( for some the memories are just last month). You can purchase yours by calling 866-811-4111 or online at www.thefactorytheater.com

There are lots of parking spots ( free in the area) and this is strictly a dress casual show ( in fact where your favorite team jersey) and due to language be careful of the younger audience you may want to bring. While I am sure they know many of the words, this is a pertty adult story with an ending that may just bring a small tear to your eye!

 

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