Think back in time, to perhaps your high school days, a time when you and your “buddies” wanted to be popular and perhaps, even achieve “stardom” with your music. The Gift Theatre, one of our little storefront treasures here in Chicago, is now presenting “Broadsword” written by Marco Ramirez, a sort of mystery, coming of “adult” age mystery that tells the story of a band, a heavy metal band that is long gone, but the memories come back to reality in this 85 minute play. I must say that I was surprised to find an intermission in this short story as in many cases, the story itself gets lost when we have 15 minutes of time to think.
Under the slick direction of Keira Fromm, though, the break in the action is not one that lets the story and the characters get away from us. The story starts out before a red curtain, when the “man in white” ( sharply played by Gabriel Franken) speaks to the audience as if we were one of the members of this band known as “Broadsword”. He is telling the person that they need not be part of this group, that they need to leave and find their own music and their own stardom. The curtain then opens revealing a basement in a house. It is a crowded basement/studio where it appears that Richie and the boys created their music. I must say that Stephen H. Carmody has outdone himself with this masterful set in such a small space. It brought back memories of my youth to be su re, as I had a kid brother who was a drummer and had his band practice in our basement, for years.
It turns out that Richie has either disappeared or died, and the family is having a memorial service for him. The other band members are there for the service and the memories along with the family and Becca, their number one fan ( deftly handled by the charming Cyd Blakewell). Two of the band members, drummer, Nicky ( a solid performance by John Kelly Connolly) and Victor ( the bassist played by James D. Farruggio) have gone their separate ways but still recall their youthful experiences and the fourth member of the group, Tony, the “Frontman” and Richie’s older brother has been gone forf some time. He is still seeking his fame in the music business and is searching for any music that Richie may have left behind.
Richie was the writer and arranger. He heard music that no one else did and was searching for the music that came before the music with author,Musicologist Dr. Thorne ( the always reliable Chuck Spencer) who had been in correspondence with Richie and was also seeking to find his discoveries. What we fine in this little taut mystery is that while these were friends, after drifting apart they each have their own reasons for being present and when it is discovered that Richie wrote a new piece of music, one that is designed to be played by the three other members of the band, they decide that for him, and only for him, they will come back and perform this one last song.
I certainly do not want to give you any of the clues that appear in this play, but please pay very close attention to the relationship between Becca and Tony and listen to what she tells him. It is also important to see “The Man In White” in the second act as now the mystery grows even deeper. The mystery elemements are greatly aided by the lighting (Claire Sangster) and the sound(Miles Polaski). Emily Guthrie’s props are many and very very accurate. The beauty of this very intimate theater is that we are so close to the actors we feel we can reach out and touch them- three rows is all there is from them to us and we witness it all as if we were in that basement ourselves.
“Broadsword” will continue at The Gift Theatre located at 4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue ( at Lawrence Avenue) in Jefferson Park through November 24th with performances as follows:
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $20-$30 ( very inexpensive for theater of this quality)
Tickets can be purchased by calling 773-283-7071 or at
Parking is street, some metered, some not ( if you go west of the theater, you will find some meters that are only until 6 p.m. ( so read the box info). There is a wonderful neighborhood dining spot just north of the theater, The Gale Street Inn ( great ribs- and I am sure they will allow you to park their and walk down to The Gift. The Blue Line stops just one block North of the theater as well.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchcicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Broadsword”