Monday December 11th 2017

“Date Me!” and “The Sound of Silence”

Somewhat recommended** New theater companies are exciting to watch. They are filled with energy and dreams. Salomee Speelt is a fixed-fluid collective founded by Noemi Schlosser. The company works to surprise both the audience they serve and in some cases, even themselves. ShPieL-Performing Identity is an incubator and producer of theater works dealing with identity, heritage and culture. It is very fitting, since they share a somewhat common ground that these two are currently producing two plays at Theater Wit on Belmont. The plays are very different- the first one that I viewed tonight is “Sound of Silence” written by Ms Schlosser based on the original work written by Jean Cocteau as a showcase for the famous ( or perhaps infamous) Edith Piaf. This is a one woman show that has been modernized from the 1940’s version with the sue of multi media, some of it brilliant and some of it confusing. The story is about an attractive nightclub singer ( played beautifully by Ms Schlosser who is one very sexy woman) who confronts her cheating lover who via video projection ignores her every word and action. This is a powerful study of a woman who despite her love for her lover, feels nothing in return. He is evidently a “player” using the money she earns to wine, dine and bed these other ladies. This is a one hour story that has some very bright spots, one of which the beauty and control of Ms. Schlosser. Some of the suitcases and boxes with TV monitors are quite confusing and caused those around me to lose focus at several points. This is a play that could be reworked into a 90 minute one woman show without all the extra “stuff” and truly showcase this fine playwright /actress.

The second play at The Wit is titled “Date Me!” a 90 minute study of pure sit-com ( with adult language and situations) and cliche ( wow, talk about every little sexual cliche being used in one play!) that starts off on a rather high note. The audience is kept out in the lobby until exactly 8:30  ( this of course changes with the performance schedule) and enters the theater to a table of wine and beer and a DJ playing some solid dance music. Here we are greeted by Ms. Schlosser ( who also wrote this one and plays the sister of the bride at this affair) and her “best girlfriend” Michelle (  played by Michelle Slonim to the extreme sit-com comedy style). They are at this affair as  a couple only because Noemi couldn’t bear to come alone and Michelle figures this is a great chance to “get lucky”

What we have next is a few funny moments after the audience participation dies out ( about 15 minutes) and the rest of the 90 minutes is lots of sex talk, texting, I-phone answering, more sex talk, and then Noemi’s new brother-in-laws brother ( the DJ played by Brandon Galatz), ex-boyfriend) tries to rekindle an old romance by hitting on Michelle. A lot of inane dialogue and clumsy staging truly detracts form some talented people. This is a premiere that evidently did well in Belgium, but Chicago theater audiences are much too sophisticated for this type of fare. Even with the free drink at the beginning along with a button that says “Date Me” and t-shirts at the end of the “party” to help you recall the 90 minutes, I took a pass on the shirt and would have preferred a drink on the way out.

As I said, tese are new companies and there is a learning curve and process to building a solid troupe. These are bright people- talented people, who I am sure will do a little more research on their audiences for their next production. Perhaps they should do a bit more “workshopping” to see what type of reactions their work will bring. Most of the audience was younger (a youthful “Thirtysomething”) who may have come from doing abit of drinking and then were served some more, Theater Wit allows drinking in the theater, so some members did go out to the bar to get a drink ( or two). Were they thirsty? Did all the dirty talk make them thirsty? Or did they feel they needed a drink to make it through the play? Why not go for yourself and see what you think. If you have a few first, you might just allow for the sit-com stuff. The cliches and the take off on the orgasm scene from “When Harry Met sally” are just some of the things that bothered me- Ms Schlosser is very talented as seen in “Sound of Silence”- surely she can do better than this!

These plays will continue at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont through December 18th, but they run alone ( in the same theater) with performances as follows:

“The Sound Of Silence”Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7  p.m. ( no performance on Thanksgiving)

“Date Me!” runs Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Sound tickets are $20- Date Me tickets are $25 and include the drink and if you wish to attend both on a Saturday night $40

to purchase tickets visit the box office, call 773-975-8150 or online www.theaterwit.org

to learn more about the companies

www.salomeespeeit.be

www.shpieltheatre.com

 

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