Wednesday July 26th 2017

“Bury The Dead”

War is hell! This is an expression that we have heard for eons-  And yet, we continue to fight wars, often wars that are not ours to fight. In Irwin Shaw’s “Bury The Dead”, now on stage at  The Artistic Home Theater on North Clark Street, Presented by Promethean Theatre Ensemble, we have a story in which six soldiers who have been killed in battle refuse to be buried. This is his indictment of war itself and the risking and losing of young men’s lives  for what appears to be no reason. In this production directed by Beth Wolf, we are at the front where these men have been found are being prepared for burial. When they are placed into a large grave, and the priest and rabbi begin delivering their final prayers, they start to rise and communicate. The response of the military is alarm and that this must be kept silent a sit will cause great turmoil should it be discovered.  The next scenes are that of the General  (Jim Morley) and the other officers trying to figure out what they can do about the situation so that they can avoid the consequences should this leak out to the Pentagon. This 90 minute show is done in two acts, but I for one felt that breaking the story up into tow sections was not as effective as having it just continue. Often, audiences lose their focus as they use the facilities, have a smoke or in today’s world, check their e-mail and messages. How hard is it to stay into a story for 90 minutes?

As the story progresses, it is decided that perhaps bringing the women in the lives of these men might change their minds and so, we meet the lovers, wives , a sister and a mother, each having a conversation about why they should be buried and yet, as they have their scenes, we also hear why they should not. We learn a lot about the feelings that these men have about having to leave what they had behind, including their youth and of course their families. These are heart warming scenes and thought provoking as well. This is a powerful story with some very strong acting from a fairly new theater company that has a lot to say.

Most impressive were Marco Minichiello and David Fink who with their Sergeant (Parke Fech) were the men who first witnessed the coming back of these six men.The six soldiers , Joel Kim Booster, Jared Fernley,Dylan Stuckey,Quinn White,Brian Pastor and Carl Lindberg had a unique task in being observers as well as participants and as each had their scene with their loved one and gave their reasons, they each presented their case with just the right touch. The six women in this cast did double duty as soldiers, reporters and then as lover/sisiter/mother; Janeane Bowlware, Sara Gorsky, Anne Korajczyk,Brit Cooper Robinson and Shawna Tucker. Two of them also played Whores in a snippet of a scene that really had no bearing to the storyline and may in reality cause confusion to the audience.The scenes between the men and their women were marvelous pieces of work and worth the price of the ticket alone.  This is a play that will make you think. About the wars our government gets us into and in particular the effect it has on our young men and women who join the military, the families and loved ones they leave behind and the memories they may never have. There is a line inn this show that is spewed by the General that we should bury them and forget them. One must ask, is this the attitude of the government? If so, it stinks. We must always remember those who have chosen to do what is asked of them by their government- remember and revere them!

The technical portion of the production is very limited in that the set is composed of what appears to large orange crates allowing for the burial hole – simple , very simple. Liz Cooper’s lighting set the mood for each of the scenes and sequences and Claudette Perez ( sound) made sure that even through the gunfire and helicopters, we could hear the actors with little or no difficulty. Melissa Schlesinger ( props) and Paula Consdorf ( costumes) work were the finishing touches on making this a quality production on a low budget. Promethean is a small company working in a small space and I can guarantee , a small budget. It is amazing to see what our smaller companies can do with what they have to work with. That is one of the beautiful things about our city- wonderful storytelling theater without the glitz.

“Bury The Dead” will continue at Artistic Home located at  3914 N. Clark Street through May 21st with performances:

Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will be an extra matinee-3 p.m. on Saturday May 7th

Tickets are $20 ( a tremendous value) and can be ordered by calling 800-838-3006 or online at www.prometheantheatre.org

Parking on the street is easy unless there is a Cubs game, in particular a night game with restricted parking.  The theater is very easy to get to via public transportation, just south of Irving Park Rd on Clark Street.    

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