Recommended *** Azusa Productions is a 20 year old company that strives to create theater that is committed to working with artists looking to expand and grow their presence. While I do not recall them, since they are not a “standard” company with seasons, I was surprised to learn of the number of years they have existed. The production that I witnessed tonight at Redtwist Theatre is David Alex’s “Eroica”, making it’s World Premiere. David, is a local talent, and as an ex-math teacher and high school coach, brings some of his life experiences to Chicago area stages. This one has no math (happily).
“Eroica” takes place in a small town, back in the 60’s, and the Viet Nam War. This was a very unpopular war in our country and brought with it, draft dodging, social protests and a mixed bag that still rings into the minds of many who served and some who avoided the war. Alex’s play is an 80 minute (no intermission) snap-shot into the lives of Victor ( Felipe Carrasco) a basketball coach at the local High School and his wife, Sally (a strong performance by Sara Pavlak McGuire). Sally’s brother Buddy, who was a basketball player, and friend of Victor. He volunteered to serve when the war broke out. He is Missing in action!
Victor’s sister, Grace (deftly handled by Sarah Koerner), a nun, has come to visit for the holidays. She is anti-war and feels that for people to feel honor within themselves, they must stand tall and face the situations that confront them. In this very short play, we learn about love, honor, patriotism and of great importance lies and deceit. The other character in the play is Charles (a strong performance by Garrett Young). He had been a player on Victor’s championship team, but after an incident with drinking, was asked to leave the team, which meant no college deferment, leading to his being drafted.
His character is filled with revenge, although he claims to be a changed man, who volunteers to help Sally with her learning about computer cards. This is how the first computers worked- punch cards. In fact, there are a number of items that might need to be explained. Like a record player ( just a plain record player) where they play Beethoven’s “Eroica”, a phone with a cord and a dial (of all things), and one that brought back great memories, a box of Whitman Sampler chocolates- I used to love opening these special candies.
I do not want to give away the plot of this tense story-line, so I will only tell you that Victor was not drafted because of medical reasons. Charles offers to assist Sally, not to truly be helpful, but to get information that could allow him to get even with Victor. The ending is powerful and the two ladies truly shine during the final scenes. There are many special moments in this production, well -directed by Maggie Speer, who is able to use the existing set from the current regular show on the stage at Redtwist, “The Seedbed” (alterations by Elyse Balough). Tonight, the theater played host to some handicapped audience members, and Mr. Alex himself did a talk through on the set pieces, explaining where items were. The audience members appreciated this and said that it helped them to feel the action and the story.
“Eroica” will continue at Redtwist. located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr thru August 7th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 3 p.m.
Tickets are $20- students and seniors $12 a bargain for live theater! visit www.dime.io/events/eroica or at redtwist on day of performance.
For parking info visit www.redtwist.org/Map
Bryn Mawr Red Line station is just a block west of the theater.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Eroica”.