Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Elizabeth The Rex”

Recommended***For those of you who are not regular visitors to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, it is NOT just Shakespeare on their Courtyard stage, but is always quality theater. Their current production, “Elizabeth The Rex” written by Timothy Findley is a fictional drama based on some historical facts, although, not very well known. Supposedly, Queen Elizabeth ( a powerful portrayal by Diane D’Aquilla) is about to witness the beheading of her lover, the Earl of Essex, for his act of treason. She commands that the men of the court perform a play. Due to the situation, there are thoughts that rioting might take place and thus the actors are lodged that night in the royal stables ( a dynamic set by Daniel Ostling, that truly resembles a stable). During this night, in order to take her mind off the impending fate of her lover. she spends her time with Shakespeare ( the always reliable Kevin Gudahl) and his actors. Of course, during this period, all roles were portrayed by male actors and Ned ( deftly handled by Steven Sutcliffe)  the leading “female” actor becomes a challenge to her. In her mind, he is more female than her, in his soul and as it turns out, he feels that she is more of a man than he.

As it turns out, Ned is dying and so he dares to go further with his insults and jibes that he otherwise might have gone. On this very long night, there is much in the way of self examination on the part of both of these characters as they search into each others hearts and souls, allowing for each to come out of their forbidden shells and learn their own truths. This is a strong story that will not appeal to all audiences, but under the clever direction of Barbara Gaines, with a smart and talented ensemble, the audience will find that the two hours plus moves quickly with solid performances by all. The ensemble of Andrew Rothenberg,Roderick Peeples, Eric Parks,Matt Farabee, Bradley Armacost, Mary Ann Thebus,Brenda Barrie,Torrey Hanson,Jude Roche and interns Anthony Kayer and Chase Pavlick make the stage come alive with great characters.

One of the highlights of attending a CST production is how well they utilize the stage with not only fantastic sets, but music (Jenny Giering), sound (Lindsay Jones) wigs and makeup (Melissa Veal) Costumes (Mariann S. Verheyen and lighting (Philip S. Rosenberg). The fight scene co-ordinater, John McFarland, and choreography by Tammy Mader are the crowning touches on a slick production that will grab your interest from the very start and keep it for over two hours. Ms.D’Aquila is a wonderful actress and her scenes with both Gudahl and Sutcliffe are indeed lessons in how an actor works with others.

“ElizabethThe Rex” will continue at Navy Pier through  January 22nd . To get an up to date schedule visit www.chicagoshakes.com/rex or call the box office at 312-595-5600

Tickets range from $44-$75 and there is discounted parking in the garage ( through January 8th, all parking after 5 p.m. i sonly $10)

Special events with Elizabeth:

on Saturdays from 12/10 ,1/7 and 1/14 at 2 p.m. and Sundays 12/11.18th,1/8 and 1/15 at 1 p.m. half hour introductory lectures will take place ( no cost).

On Wednesdays, following 1 p.m. performances, talk backs will take place

On Friday,January 6th at 6:30 p.m. a pub cast call will take place where audience members can discuss the play with several cast members prior to the show.

All the information is described in detail at www.chicagoshakes.com

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