Writers Theatre in Glencoe has been a major Chicagoland Cultural destination for almost a quarter of a century. Between the Women’s Center location and Books on Vernon, they have brought many epic theatrical productions to their stages. Now, in their new home, on their second stage, a multi-purpose, black-box venue named The Gillian Theatre, along with The Second City, they are presenting one of the funniest looks at theater in general, “Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: a Parody”. Created by Tim Ryder and Tim Sniffen and written by Sniffen, this is an amazing play that begs to ask the question- “What happens when the most recognizable characters from some of the greatest American plays of the last century find themselves sharing the same stage?”
When you enter the theater, which is set up with seating all on one side (typical theater style), we see a set (Linda Buchanan) that is a combination of outside, inside, a train, and a large old house. It seems that Blanche DuBois (amazingly portrayed by Jennifer Engstrom) has been summoned home to New Orleans, where she is once again in the same house with Stanley Kowalski (deftly handled by Michael Perez). We have a narrator, known as “The Stage Manager (“Our Town, you know, played to perfection by Sean Fortunato) who speaks to us and takes on other roles during this 70 minutes of pure fun!
Blanche is not the only one that has been summoned to New Orleans. Turns out that salesman, Willy Loman (Marc Grapey is divine in this very comedic role) has also been brought to town to attend a seminar on success in sales, and the wild and mostly drunk Martha and George (John Hoogenakker and the very sexy Karen Janes Woditsh) from “Virginia Woolf” are also on board to meet and greet their imaginary son (or is he?). The wit and comic genius that we, as an audience get to experience is mind-boggling. The creativity in using other titles of other plays as reference is absolutely genius!. Take the pizza parlor, “Waiting for Godot” Pizza. “When will the pizza be delivered?”. When it gets there!. So, we wait for Godot. There is mention of the roof being tinny and of course, we hear the “meow” of a cat. There are surprises galore and each one will perk your interest as you wait to see what comes next. In fact, many great works from the 20th Century are mentioned and joked about- to perfection!
Co-Directed by Stuart Carden and Michael Halbertstam, this is a flawless, laugh-a-minute parody that will appeal to all true theater buffs as well as to comedy buffs who love Second City. It is not “improv”, but a well synchronized script performed by a cast of six actors who appear to be having as much fun as the audience. From the start to the finish, the most difficult part is hearing the next line due to the laughter that is drowning out the ability to hear. This may be a show that needs to be seen twice. The cast has chemistry and to really get into this show, you truly have to concentrate. There are references to all types of plays, some subtle, some very OUT, but all in fun and all designed to bring you the laughter that makes you feel good. There is no way you don’t leave the theater with a smile in your heart and on your face! This is magical comedy!
Many theater-goers who come to Writers do so for the elegance they bring to the stage. They have added musicals to their mix and with some of the shows they do, of a more serious nature, it is nice that they have chosen to add something like this “Parody”. Laughter is good for what ails you, and with all the political stuff going on in our country, comic relief is probably the best prescription we can be offered. The schedule has also added some Audience enrichment events.
ASL-Interpreted performance Thursday, July 14th 7:30 p.m.
Open-captioned Friday, July 15th 7:30 p.m.
Every Wednesday evening, after the show, there will be discussions with the cast.
Every Tuesday evening there will be a talk back session with a member of the artistic team
Sunday, June 19th- after the matinée, a short discussion on the themes. Limited seating, so reservations are required
Monday, June 27th- discussion of “the making of—-”
There is also a “page to stage” series check out www.writerstheatre.org/events.
“Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody” will continue at Writers Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe through July 31 with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. (some select 3 p.m. shows as well)
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $35-$80 and are available at the box office, by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org
There is plenty of free parking in Glencoe. Around the theater and “downtown” as well as at the train station. By the way, getting there by train is as easy as pie.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Death of a Streetcar named Virginia Woolf: A Parody”