Most of you know that Redtwist Theatre, that lovely little storefront on Bryn Mawr is one of my very favorite little theater companies in town. they offer some of the best and most intimate of shows, so it is with a heavy heart that I report that their latest production- The Chicago Premiere of Molly Smith Metzler’s “Elemeno Pea” is not up to their usual standards. It is a cute play, but one that in its 1 hour and thirty-five minutes, left me hungry for the rest of the story. There had to be more! There should be more!
Directed by Steve Scott on a striking set(Ross G, Hoppe) that clearly “outclasses” the play, we are in a summer beach house on an estate at Martha’s Vineyard, where Simone ( the lovely Elizabeth Argus) has brought her sister , Devon ( a powerful portrayal of a character who is somewhat under-developed deftly handled by Carley Mosely. Simone is the personal assistant to the rich and highly pampered, and extremely selfish Michaela ( played over the top by one of my favorites, Jaqueline Grandt). As good as she gets, the script is lacking in revealing some of the story that we, the audience need to know!
There are also two men in the play ( that are on stage).Joe-B ( a kind of joke, as they already have a Jose, so they have opted to call their houseman, Jos-B ( Johnny Gracia, who deserves much better) and Simone’s boy friend, best friend to the couple she works for, Ethan ( Michael Sherwin, in a role that no actor should even try to play with heart and soul). Ethan is the rich kid who has never worked and lives on someone else’s hard wok and sweat. How can anyone like this “lovable character”?
The story is about the relationship between the sisters and the relationship between the boss and the hired help 9 on two counts) as well as finding true love, or at least someone with wealth. In this short play, we also watch the destruction of a relationship between a man we never get to meet and his second wife ( or could it be third- who knows? and who cares?.
Even the title is hard to explain- “Elemeno Pea” is written, in letters LMNOP on the back of a necklace that Devon wears. It signifies something that took place as a youth when she thought it was indeed ONE letter of the alphabet, LMNOP. This description adds nothing to the story at all and perhaps mde me think more about Ms Metzler being lucky that The Humana Festival called it their hit play of the 2011 offerings. Must have been a weak crop. Perhaps she can re-visit her thought process and fill in the gaps that will make this a fully developed story. The set is great, the actors superb ( given the material they have to work with), the direction is as good as it can get with this script and the tech people have it right: Christopher Burpee ( lighting), Olivia Leah Baker(costumes)and Jeff Shields ( props). Good cast, good staff, so-so play!
Want to see for yourself? You can visit Redwtist Theatre located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr through January 12th with performances as follows:
Sunday 3 p.m.
Tickets are $25 and $30 with $5 off for students and senors. Open seating and as you know, this is a small intimate space where we can almost reach out and touch the performers, so if you plan to attend, do not put it off. You can call 773-728-7529 or visit www.redtwist.org
there is street parking, some metered, some not and the area restaurants offer valet parking- you can also use the RED LINE ( the easy way to go) and exit at Bryn Mawr exit where you are just a short block from the theater passing a Starbucks along the way.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Elemeno Pea”