Highly Recommended Due to a heavy theater schedule I was unable to get to UrbanTheater Company’s opening of the Midwest Premiere of Jose Rivera’s “Brain People”, but tonight I was able to witness this amazing production. UrbanTheater is a fairly new company located in a store-front on Division Street (Batey Urbano) in Humboldt Park. It always a pleasure to watch these new companies grow and see the quality of work they bring to our stages. Their mission statement says they are committed to the creation and exploration of urban-inspired works that convey,illuminate and empathize with the human experience, and they do this with great style and flair.
Jorge Feliz has transformed this store into a wonderful high-rise apartment, somewhere in Los Angeles in a time yet to come. The set is wonderful and makes you forget that you re just off the busy Division Street. Rivera’s story is about a wealthy woman (Marilyn Camacho plays this woman with great power) who invites two strangers to her apartment for what we learn is a special dinner to commemorate the death of her parents. Each year, on this date, Mayannah has done this but neither the two women who have been paid to attend or the audience realizes what her reasons are until much later into the story.
As it turns out, the two women she has “hired” for these festivities are themselves damaged souls with their own problems. Rosemary ( Amanda Powell) has many personalities to deal with and as the evening progresses they all come out. Ani ( deftly handled by Kate Brown) is a woman seeking to leave LA and start a new life in order to forget her own past. As Rivera reveals the inner truths of each character , under the perfect direction of Marti Lyons, the tension between the characters grows and the answers that Mayannah is looking for become evident. Ani has great fears of staying when it turns out that the dinner they are being served is Tiger meat, yet Rosemary finds this to be tasty and gives her a warm feeling. As the stories unfold and we learn more about the past, it is evident that what took place when Mayannah was a child has caused her to continue to seek the answers as to why her parents were taken from her as a child. I don’t like to give away to much as there is a mystery element to this story, but her parents, it turns out, travelled to India and were eaten by a tiger, so let your brain work on that and you may be able to tie up some of the loose ends. But if you can, try to see this production before it closes on the 12th ( I do not think they will be able to extend) of December. There is much to see and much to think about in this sterling production. Every little detail completes the story that Rivera set out to tell; the lighting ( Richard Ebeling),Sound ( Christopher Criz), Props (Katherine Greenleaf) and costumes (Freddie Rocha). This “team” is what makes companies like Urban hit the mark every time they do a play.
Performances are Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. The play is 1 hour -20 minutes ( with no intermission) and the Batey Urbano Theatre is located at 2620 W. Division ( metered street parking) Tickets are $20 ( just a little more than a movie for powerful live theater) and can be purchased by calling 312-239-8783. Check this young and exciting company out at www.UrbanTheaterChicago.org
Also, since you are in what is the Puerto Rican area of Chicago, you might want to try Coco Chicago, one block west of the theater. Great dining at reasonable prices and you only need to park once. www.cocochicago.com 773-384-4811