Saturday February 24th 2018

“Flamingo & Decatur”

Recommended *** Little by little, the world is seeing Chicago as THE place for live theater! We have seen more actors come here to get the career that they want and of course, Broadway continues to offer us shows before they land on New York stages. This shows the beauty of who we are in the community that we know as Chicago.

Now, theater companies from other parts of the country are opting to bring their company and their plays to our city. Block Street Theatre of Arkansas is here at Theater Wit presenting the World Premiere of Todd Taylor’s “Flamingo & Decatur”. The story is about gamblers and thus takes place in Las Vegas. While we all know the bright lights Vegas, as with any city, there are other sides to the glitz and glamour. This is a back-side story and the main characters in the story are  Jackson  ( solidly played by Jason M. Shipman) and Ben ( deftly handled by Drew Johnson). Both of these gamblers, due to a poor economy, have run into some financial problems.

While they are re-tooling their ideas, they have moved into one of the many empty homes left so, due to bankruptcy and foreclosure. The banks own many and most of the area homeowners do not know their neighbors anyway, so why not? The home is huge, has a backyard hot tub and putting range and all the delights of the daylight sun and the evening desert cool breezes.

They have a neighbor who comes by to complain about the upkeep of their house. He does not know they are in fact squatters, but feels that the way they do not take care of their home might have an effect on the value of his. Simon ( a great character by Nathaniel Stahlke) is nerdy and as we later learn has recently become a single person, leaving him hopelessly alone, with very little in the way of prospects.

He strikes a deal with  Jackson on fixing the lawn and some minor other things and all seems okay. He does some searching and comes to the conclusion that these men are not renting the house that is like his, but in reality living there free! This is wrong and illegal. Simon says to Jackson, either pay me each month or I will reveal the truth to he police and a new deal is made. The new deal is that Simon will be paid $500 per month and Jackson will do the lawn ( his as well) to make sure the house looks great cosmetically.

These two gamblers have some stuff in the works and know that when the deals come through, money will be no object. Meanwhile, where do they find $500 per month? Rent a room! That should and could be effective. Ben finds a poker player, Nicole ( the charming and very attractive Stephanie Bignault) to take the room. Both Ben and Jackson agree that should the authorities come to take them away, they will exonerate Nicole of any punishment, as she does not know they are squatters.

During the early scenes of Nicole moving in, we learn a great deal about gambling and begin to see that Ben and Jackson could easily have been characters in “Guys & Dolls”- they seem to bet on everything! As we watch time go by, we also watch as more friction takes place between Simon and Jackson, but we watch Jackson change to more of a person. In fact, he kind of finds himself falling for Nicole, which is very problematic. Should he tell her what the situation is? Should he become her lover? I will not tell you exactly what takes place and how this part turns out as I prefer you see it unfold yourself.

I will tell you that the ending, for my part, is one of happiness as the gamblers come to realize the real truths of the world and Jackson and Simon become friends ( sort of) giving them both a new lease on life and trust of one another ( and others). While this may not be a Broadway show, it is a theatrical experience that is worth seeing and one that will be enjoyable and somewhat educational. Smoothly directed by Kevin Christopher Fox on a set (nice design by  (Joe Schermoly) with lighting by Andrew Ridgers, costumes by Chloe Patten, sound by Christopher Kriz and props by Jessic Mondres. Great job!

“Flamingo & Decatur” will continue at Theater Wit located at  1229 West Belmont thru February 18th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays  8 p.m.

Thursdays  8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Sundays 2 p.m.

Tickets are $33 – $28 for seniors and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-975-8150 or online at http://www.theaterwi.org

Running time is 2 hours with an intermission

Parking is available on the street in the area as well as valet on week-ends and if you dine at Kubo, directly across the street, they have a parking lot in the rear. By the way, Jane and I enjoyed items from their Sunday brunch menu- delicious and very affordable! Mention aroundthetown. Their number 773-610-0730

To see what others are saying, visit http://www.theatreinchicago.comgo to Review Round-Up and click at “Flamingo & Decatur”

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