Wednesday January 18th 2017

“Hauptmann” reviewed by Emily Johnson

citylitlogoWritten by John Logan and directed by Terry McCabe, Hauptmann tells the story of the conviction of Richard Hauptmann in the Lindbergh kidnapping trial.

I am not the most well versed person on this story, and I can’t say I’m much better off after seeing this play. I get that there were lots of suspicious inconsistencies in the case as it moved along, including the choice of German “Bruno” Hauptmann, a poor and meek man set against the blond Aryan wet dream Charles Lindbergh. The eagerness of police to solve big cases. There’s the whole thing with the gold certificates, the wood and handwriting experts and so on.

Yep, I get why it’s a compelling narrative, or could be.

Unfortunately, this is a courtroom drama low on drama but long on cliché. It’s one long plea, from the moment Bruno begins his story from death row.

He’s surrounded by the ensemble, a prison staff. The players are draped on the bars of Bruno’s cell in a black-and-white tableau. The actors are mostly silent at first, miming the actions used like flashbacks in old movies as Hauptmann narrates the scenes of his arrest, interrogation, and trial.

The production is spare and stylized, with lone spotlights targeting the action. The playwright’s choice to put the play in its 30s milieu (it was written in 1986) creates a beautiful but placid setting, with dialogue so generalized that there’s little actual drama.

Being stuck with this one narrative voice is tough. The character is weary, permanently surprised by the ridiculousness of his case, then desperate as he makes his case.

hauptman

His introduction is a too-long lead-in to the points of interest in the case. These are presented vaguely, perhaps to create a sense of doubt in the audience, but create only confusion. And with so much exposition and a slim story, the show moves along intermittently.

Finally, City Lit Theater should invest in some new seats. These were not only collapsing and uncomfortable, but noisy as people shifted around. Also with traffic sounds in the background, this less than taut drama had some obstacles to overcome.

Runs through July 10

City Lit Theater

1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

Tickets $29

hauptman2Fridays           7:30

Saturdays       7:30

Sundays          3:00

Thursday June 30 and July 7                       7:30

Buy online at www.citylit.org or call 773-293-3682

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at Hauptmann.

Parking can be tough so I suggest the Red Line (Bryn Mawr stop is just a block away). Meters are free on Sundays.

 

Leave a Comment

More from category

“What of The Night”  reviewed by Carol Moore
“What of The Night” reviewed by Carol Moore

 Somewhat Recommended ** Watching “What of the Night?” was an extremely frustrating experience.  Instead of [Read More]

“Fantastic Super Great Nation Numer Uno” 41st Revue at Second City ETC
“Fantastic Super Great Nation Numer Uno” 41st Revue at Second City ETC

Recommended *** One of the problems I imagine Second City has come up against, of late, is coming up with new [Read More]

” 30th Young Playwrights Festival” reviewed by Carol Moore
” 30th Young Playwrights Festival” reviewed by Carol Moore

Highly Recommended ****     The first time I went to see the Young Playwrights Festival, I didn’t know what to [Read More]

“The Dining Room”
“The Dining Room”

Recommended *** For those of you familiar with the intimate Glenview “storefront”, Oil Lamp Theater, you [Read More]

“Phedre”  reviewed by Jacob Davis
“Phedre” reviewed by Jacob Davis

Highly Recommended **** Jean Racine’s 1677 tragedy Phédre is remembered as the epitome of not only his career, but [Read More]