Tuesday January 23rd 2018

“Failure:A Love Story”

Highly Recommended**** Seeing as many plays as I do each year, many oldies that are done over and over and some new, it is always a treat to be in the audience for a “world premiere”, and even more so when it is well written and well directed with a cast that understands the characters they are playing. Victory Gardens is now presenting such a treat; “Failure: A Love Story”, written by Philip Dawkins ( one of their ensemble playwrights), a simple little story about the Fail family who lived ( and died) in Chicago. There are three sisters in this story along with their brother and oh, yes, their parents. This is a 100 minute ( no intermission)  magical,musical and high spirited fun story about death and love. Directed by Seth Bockley this is a play that uses very little in the way of set on the more intimate stage ( upstairs) of The Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens. We do have some furniture that is used in many ways and some wonderful props   that help to move the story along.

The story takes place in 1928, with the Fail family, who reside in a building along the Chicago River. The building where they reside is also the clock and watch shop owned by Mr. Fail and his wife. They are played to sheer perfection by Guy Massey and Janet Ulrich Brooks, who also become the “chorus” after they die in the very start of the story in an auto mishap. They leave behind three daughters, Nelly ( the adorable Baize Buzan), Jenny June ( deftly handled by Emjoy Gavino) and Gerty ( Mildred Marie Langford). Each girl has her sights set on the future. Nelly wants to be a big star, Jenny June, the first female Olympic swimmer and Gerty, to lead a normal happy life. Their brother, John N (Michael Salinas) loves animals, and in fact doesn’t do well with people. After their parents demise, into their shop enters Mortimer Mortimer ( a strong performance by Matt Fletcher) to have a watch engraved. He is looking to find a wife and to settle down. What happens is that he meets Nelly and they fall in love. On their wedding day, while waiting for the ceremony to begin along the river bank, a sculpture falls on her and she is killed.

Mortimer moves into her old room and as he gets closer to Jenny June, he becomes her swimming coach and works with her to take on Lake Michigan for her swimming feat. In her swim, she gets sucked under the water and is drowned. By this time they had fallen deeply in love. Gerty, who was with them at the time gets ill during this period and as Mortimer takes care of her, they fall in love as well, and then she dies, leaving him with his “nothing-in-law”, John N. !They grow old together and after John N. passes away, Mortimer is left alone with his memories of the loves of his life, the Fail girls. In all cases, none of the characters ever sees death coming. While the subject matter, death, is not one you would expect in a comedy like this, it is filled with lots of humor, music and hope, triumphs, ambitions, love and loss. A very impressive piece that will leave you in high spirits in spite of the loss of each love in Mortimer’s life.

This is indeed a charming play that has music and dance along with great performances by each cast member with some very special performances by Ms Brooks and Mr. Massey as they play snakes, clocks, puppy dogs and assorted other characters and objects. You only have until the end of the year ( December 30th ) to catch it and since the upstairs venue is one of coziness, there are less seats, so I would suggest you plan to get your tickets soon.                                                                                                     

The performance schedule is:

Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. with an afternoon show on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

There is an additional performance on Wednesday , December 19th at 2 p.m. and on December 26th at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $35-$50

To order your tickets, you can visit the box office located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue ( just north of Fullerton), by phone at 773-871-3000 or online at tickets@victorygardens.org

There are special performances with talk-backs, sign language,word for word captioning and audio description for the blind and low vision patrons- check www.victorygardens.org

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on “Failure”http://vicgorygardenstest.org/images/Email/11282012/sb-town-car.png




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