In the past two centuries, poems based on paintings have become increasingly common. Comedia Beauregard has decided to try its hand at making plays based on pieces of intuit (not Inuit) and outsider art all located at Chicago’s Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. The production consists of six plays based on different pieces of art each written and directed by different people, and performed by various actors.
We see an art piece projected above the performance space before and after each play, and ideally (and usually), it means something different to us after seeing the playwright’s work performed. By far the most affecting of these plays was “The Last Dance” written by Brenda E. Kelly and directed by Derek Bertelsen. It’s 1958 and a young, well-dressed man (Ian Michael Minh) has been jilted by his date. In fact, she has sent him to an old speakeasy that has long since been abandoned except by an late middle-aged woman (Daria Harper) who lives in a semi-delusional state, drinking and waiting for her friends who have long since ceased to inhabit the bar. Both Minh and Harper convey an intense alienation that is impressive, all the more so because it is sustained even as they strike up a casual and moving friendship. He exudes a discouraged, non-idealized, representation of youth, and she conveys an authentic wistfulness without any bitter exterior.
There are some other impressive pieces here. “Shadow Boy” written by Caity-Shea Violette and directed by Jonathan Goldthwaite takes a highly abstract painting and allegorizes it, pitting Ritual (Ian Michael Minh) and History (Fin Coe) against each other in what initially looks like a new age rite in which a young woman (Alaithia Velez) tries to ward of an approaching dark shadow. Ritual’s closing line “You can use me for the good things too. I do that also” is an interesting meditation on what ritual has become, or how it is perceived, in a post-modern age with a highly empirical world-view.
In “The Fitting,” written by Laura Nessler and directed by Shandee Vaughan: the mother of the groom (Mary Jo Bolduc) is at the end of her rope because her dress is too big, the bridesmaids (Jillann Morlan and Abby Stark) are taking about their profligate generation while she is on the phone with a creditor. Through all of this, all the bridesmaids continue to admire how thin she is, leading to a razor sharp response! There are other interesting plays here, but they lack the seriousness, substance, and dialogue of the other three pieces. In particular, ‘Chained to Chair” by Kevin Alves incredibly sophomoric sketch which seemed both inappropriate and a missed opportunity as it was based on a piece of art entitled, “Like Father, Like Son: Eternal Slave.” Nonetheless, the production was innovative and thought-provoking, especially as it takes place at the museum at which the art-works are displayed.
“Master Works: the Intuit Plays” only run for two weeks through April 11, 2015 at the center for intuitive and outsider art which is located at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago It has short run of two weeks through April 11, 2015 with performances Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 pm. Tickets are 15 dollars for general admission, and 10 dollars for intuit members. Tickets are currently on-sale at http://tinyourl.com/intuit-tix
For info on this theater company, go to www.cbtheatre.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Comedia Beauregard-The Intuitive Plays”