Sunday November 19th 2017

“Black Watch”

When people speak about the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, they often don’t give them enough praise for their bringing us some of the world’s greatest theater in Chicago. Their “World’s Stage” program  in just this season has presented “Funk It Up About Nothin'”, “The Cripple of Inishman”,”Give Me Your Hand” and “Being Harold Pinter”. We have had Ireland,Belarus and their current “Black Watch” from Scotland- what a wonderful year for this program. “Black Watch” is not  “just a play”- it is a theatrical experience written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany, that reveals the legendary Scottish regiment’s history and their tour in Iraq as our Allys. And to make the experience even greater, they are performing this at The Broadway Armory, a space on the north side (5917 N. Broadway) that was in fact a training ground for our military during World War I and the only armory being used to produce this play during the 2011 tour. Being in this building made the production more powerful than it could ever be in a regular theater.

The story interweaves events of the past and present of this group of soldiers that have always taken the call for assistance, leading back to 1745 until they do their tours in Iraq. The armory is set up on two sides with seating on risers ( but with chairs for audience comfort) and as if watching a sporting event, we are led through this story by ten powerful actors who also sing and do some very athletic bits of choreography(Steven Hoggett) on a set designed by Laura Hopkins. The stage is almost bare, but on each side are rigs with ladders and stairs that also have landings, allowing for these to be used as balconies, lookout stations and her pool table, which has many uses is by far the best use of a pool table I have ever seen. The music filled withwar anthems and Scottish folk songs add to the overall experience as we glimpse into the lives of these warriors as they talk about their experiences in both training and in battle and prepare to once again go home, hopefully as heros.

Based on actual interviews with soldiers who had lived the experience,Burke truly captures the feelings of these interviews into a warm and intimate  history lesson  filled with lots of emotions and showing how these men, despite their reasons for being in this unit, become a family, caring for one another, but at all times knowing that what they stand for is important to not just themselves and their country, but to the entire world- their job is to fight for those who truly need them. The ten men who are all over the stage through bombings, fights and training are as  agile and talented as we will ever see and being Scots, they have great brogues.

FYI- The language is real with lots f four letter words, but this is how military men speak under the unique circumstances they share and there are lots of bombs bursting which adds to the reality of what we are seeing and what these men faced daily. A very impressive production and in the perfect setting. “Balck Watch” will only perfomr through the 10th so if you have some time, see it. If you can reschedule your time to fit in, I urge you to do so!  Tickets range fromm $38-$45 and are available by calling 312-595-5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com

Parking is available ( metered) all around the Armory and public transportation makes it easy to get there. The show is an ON TIME production with NO LATE SEATING, so secure your tickets, make your travel arrangements to leave ample time and get there early. You will not regret it!

Thank you Chicago Shakespeare Theater for making this happen!

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