Saturday February 24th 2018

“Blind Date:

“Politics make strange bedfellows”! This is an expression that many of us have heard over the years. Based on what is taking place in our lives (and our history) in today’s world of politics, that also involves a Unites States President and a Russian Leader. The play is “Blind Date” written by Rogelio Martinez, who takes us back to the “Cold War”, the 1980’s, long before “social media” and “fake news”. It is the story about the meeting between Ronald Reagan (played to perfection by Rob Riley) and Mikhail Gorbachev ( an incredible work by Chicago favorite William Dick) and their summit designed to bring the two countries closer and to perhaps  thaw the “Cold War”.

Smoothly directed by Robert Falls on a set designed by Riccardo Hernandez, this 2 1/2 hour play ( two acts, one intermission) moves quickly from scene to scene, with walls that move, floors that open, and overlaps in scenes that keep the pace of the show. There is a great deal of comedy in the script, in particular those pertaining to the President, being, after all, an actor. The scenes between the wives, Nancy Reagan ( the incredible Deanna Dunagan, who truly looks like the former first lady) and Raisa Gorbachev ( another great performance by Mary Beth Fisher). The scenes between the ladies are hysterical as they work to communicate with each other and offer asides to the audience that will have you laughing out loud ( I think the kids call this LOL).

Both leaders have advisors who are a major part of bringing the two world leaders together. In the American corner, as George Shultz, the powerful Jim Ortlieb, and wearing red, in the Soviet corner, the extremely funny Steve Pickering as Eduard Shevardnadze, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs. These two men play at one-upmanship in order to set up the initial meeting. In fact, it seems that the entire story deals with one-upmanship; between the Aides, the wives and the leaders themselves.

There is a biographer along for the ride. Edmund Morris has been hired by Nancy Reagan to write his story and is well portrayed by Thomas J. Cox.

The two men go off track several times, avoiding protocol, and just being two leaders who desire to make “nice” and avoid a war. Each leader and their wives , tend to try to take the lead and thus the power whenever they can. Even for a dinner party, it is the last one to enter the room that gets noticed more. Reagan, on their first meeting wore no coat ( He was warm-blooded, Nancy said), so Raisa told her husband to toss his coat. It is more manly to be coatless and on the same level with the President.

Reagan was anti-communism so for him having a  better relationship with The Soviet would allow us to stop the spread. He needed to stop the threat of it spreading to the United States and possibly an end to the Cold War and peace between the two countries. While this is a play that deals with history, I am sure that much of what we see is theatrical license and not factual ( but could be close)! The playwright, who is of Cuban heritage, felt a desire to know more about these powers and their meeting, as it had some effect on his life as well.  He did a masterful job of creating what “might” have been .The play is well written, well -directed and very well acted. No matter your political spin, I think you will find this a story that will entertain you and possibly give you some insight into an actor turned president that took his position very seriously.

The ensemble of players that fill in all of the minor roles do some wonderful work. Each one adds to the overall quality of this solid production: Torrey Hanson, Michael Milligan, Gregory Linington, McKinley Carter, James D.Farruggio, Guy Massey, Doug McDade, Craig Spidle, David Besky, Chris Daley, Sam Krey, Joe Lino, Nathan Simpson and Emilio Tirri. Great work!

On the tech side, hats off to Amy Clark for her costume design, Aaron Spivey for his lighting, Richard Woodbury for both his sound design and the original music that adds just the right touches.

“Blind Date” will continue at The Goodman’s Albert Theatre ( what most call the Mainstage) thru February 25th with performances as follows:

Thu, Feb 1: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 2: 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 3: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 4: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Wed, Feb 7: 7:30pm
Thu, Feb 8: 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 9: 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 10: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 11: 2:00pm
Tue, Feb 13: 7:30pm
Wed, Feb 14: 7:30pm
Thu, Feb 15: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 16: 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 17: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 18: 2:00pm
Wed, Feb 21: 7:30pm
Thu, Feb 22: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 23: 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 24: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Feb 25: 2:00pm & 7:30pm

 

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 312-443-3800

www.goodmantheatre.org/blinddate

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Blind Date”

 

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