Remy Bumppo Think Theatre, follows a theme each season, and in this their 15th season, they are exploring, The American Evolution. Their current production, “Changes of Heart”, an adaptation/translation of the French Farce “La Double Inconstance” (The Double Inconsistency) added to it by Pierre de Marivaux,by Stephen Wadsworth, tries to keep the “commedia dell’arte” touch as the players have some contact with the audience, aware that they are present. According to the notes, they have taken this subject and moved it to the 1960′s in Chicago, although there is no mention or need to mention the place of action, as it is the action and the story that are of great importance to making this work. Set in the upstairs main stage at The Greenhouse on Lincoln Avenue, the stage is surrounded by audience on three sides and the set (Stephen H.Carmody)although simplistic, is quite regal. The story is about class differences and romance/love between them.
In this finely tuned production under the direction of Timothy Douglas, we have a young lady,Silvia ( a strong performance by Alana Arenas) who has been taken from her small village by the Prince ( deftly handled by Steve Wojtas) who has fallen deeply in love with her despite their clash in culture and class. Silvia has a lover of her own,Harlequin ( a zany character porrayed with great zest and energy by Nicholas Gamboa) who for some reason has a Spanish accent and vocabulary, despite no mention of them coming from an area that is Latin. The Prince, through most of the play is not known to Silvia as The prince, but rather a member of the military who she feels something for. In fact, at one point she comes very near to confessing, that if he were the one to whisk her away in wedlock, she would be elated.
Meanwhile,Flaminia ( deliciously played by Linda Gillum), a sort of right hand person to the Prince, finds herself falling in love with the lowly Harlequin ( another clash of class) who at first was her mission to have him give up Silvia for the Prince. There is of course a lot of comedy in this three act play ( around 2 hours and forty minutes). The other characters in this farce are Shawn Douglass as the Lord, a Nobleman, who also tries to convince Harlequin that Silvia is better off with the Prince and brings him an opportunity to become a Nobleman,D’Wayne Taylor as Trivelin, the Prince’s Valet who it turns out has a secret love for Flaminia,Lisette ( Jessica Maynard) a Lady of The Court who had hopes of wedding The Prince before Silvia came along and last, but not least, Jake Szczepaniak as he Ensemble. Lte me mention that this character, The Ensemble has no lines at all and yet controls every scene he is in. He does a lot of lip syncing and dancing as he starts and ends scenes by moving set pieces about the stage. He is hysterical and proves that there is no such thing as a small part.
While this is a story about the classes and the ability for people to break barriers when love is alive, it id sone in a way that keeps the interest and a lot of this can be attributed to the solid cast of players. They work well together and besides the great “silent” work by Szczepaniak, the scenes between Gamboa and Gillum are pure magic. Arenas, of course, is always fun to watch onstage and while she and The Prince are the “straight men” in this farce, they do have thier moments. This is definately not Chicago’s North Shore ( at least not the one I live in), but it is a wonderful theatrical experience.
“Changes” will continue through January 8th at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue with performances as follows:
Wednesday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
No performances on November 30th,December 24th and 25th and January 1st
Special matinee performances on Thursdays,December 1st and 15th at 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays December 10th ( between the lines at 1:30 p.m.) and December 31st at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $35 with student tickets at $20 and $15 (day of show RUSH) and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-40GREEN (773-404-7336 or online at www.remybumppo.org