Somewhat Recommended ** It is sometimes difficult to do a rating on a review. In the case of “Corpus Delicti”, written by local playwright David Alex, now experiencing its World Premiere at The Greenhouse Theater Center, it is even harder as I am well acquainted with David and have loved many of his previous shows. This one, presented by MadKap productions, who have brought his last two plays to the stage, is, in my opinion, not ready for “prime time” yet. The ingredients are there! It is a different story for David as the main character is not involved with Mathmatics ( David’s previous life) and while David Mell, Director has put together a solid cast and the set by Robert D. Estrin is one of the highest quality sets I have ever seen in the upstairs “studio” at The Greenhouse- it is amazing. Lesley Fisher’s props are also outstanding and Scott Pillsbury’s lighting along with Bill Morey’s costumes complete the tech portion of the play. There are some wonderful musical interludes as well.
As I said earlier, the play has some moments and possibly, even after the readings that brought the production to the stage, it is possible that this play , over a period of years can be streamlined from its almost two hours, two acts twelve scenes to a more condensed version of 90-100 minutes without the intermission. That may be the way to tighten up the story.
Speaking of the story- The play takes place in a store where books are restored. The shop is owned by Contrapasso ( deftly handles by John Norris, who looks to be an older David Alex), who restores books for the public and evidently is a “dirty old man” and yet a church-goer who, with his Mother ( who we never meet) is very “Christian”. Employed in the shop is Albert Durante, an African -American, ex-con who is trying very hard to set his life straight after serving time for a crime he did not commit. Matthew J. Lloyd brings a certain “something” to the role, making him a bit less believable as the man who is threatened by his past. His niece, Beatrice ( the lovely Destiny Strothers) works part time in the shop as well. This young, very sexy young teen brings out a different side to Contrapasso and sets the stage for the mystery portion of the play.
There is of course a cop! One Detective Michaels ( deftly handled by Jeffrey M. Brown, who truly looks and acts like a cop) He is the police detective who is still sure that Albert was guilty in the past and as the mystery unfolds in this one, feels that Albert is always the guilty party. Not wanting to spoil the plot and where Alex takes us in this one, I will resist the urge to lay it out. I will say that this part does have some realistic elements and as they say, “the plot thickens”. Think Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and you will get the “jist” of what takes place as Albert tries to convince the police that the crime that ends the first act was not his, but that of another and he then convinces Michaels that he is correct, despite no actual evidence.
There is one other character in the play, a kind of bum, who after returning from war just does nothing. It is his meeting with Albert that sets the tone for Albert knowing what he must do at the end of the play. Virgil doesn’t have to really be there as much as he is, but without him, there would be no sounding board for Albert and no one to escape his wasted life with, so while he is not a key player, he is in fact a very important character and Michael J. Bullaro seems to have a great deal of fun bringing this character to life.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
There are Saturday matinees at 2:30 on March 8th and 22nd.
Tickets are ONLY $35 ( which is very affordable for live theater) and only $20 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.greenhousetheater.org
Parking is very available in the neighborhood some metered, some not and of course, there are spaces at the old Children’s Memorial hospital garage just down the street.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Corpus Delicti”