It is hard to believe, but it has been 21 years since Profiles Theatre produced “Hellcab”, Will Kern’s holiday night in the life of a cab driver in Chicago on Christmas, but here it is 2013, the start of the Holiday season and it is back, once again directed by Darrell W. Cox and once again starring Paul Dillon as the weary driver. The original production was done by Famous Door Theatre as “late night fare”. The original play was scheduled for 12 performances and to the shock of the theater community ended up running over nine years. Yes, that is correct, the Christmas season lasted a lot longer than anticipated.
For those of you not aware of what “Hellcab” is, it is a day in the life of a cab driver ( an incredible job by Dillon, who truly makes you feel that he has been out there on the streets, himself) as he wends his way through the city taking an incredible array of passengers to their destinations. This is truly an “ensemble” piece with 33 cast members being used in a play that is about 70 minutes in length. It is a story that gets into the heart and soul of the cab driver ( a movie version of this play was done with Dillon playing the driver role, but was called “Chicago Cab”.
Kern write this play drawing from his own experiences as a cab driver, a position may writers and actors find themselves employed in while they are seeking their ultimate goal as actors.directors, dancers, writers, etc. and as one who did drive a cab back in my acting days ( fro a short time and a limo as well, I must say, that there are many characters in this play that are as real as real can be. There are druggies, a couple ready to have sex now, a horny woman, a transvestite who is having “boyfriend” problems, other cabbies faced with the issue of taking African American fares to the South side, and an assortment of others who are what a typical driver may come up against on a cold winter night in Chicago’s streets.
The set is a car, one where the roof has been cut off ( a four door sedan) so that we can see the action in the cab (Shaun Renfro) and the lighting (Mike Durst) is primarily in and around the car. The sound is the radio and some music (Jeffrey Levin) and the costumes are everyday clothing for the most part (Raquel Adorno). The stories are told in brief snippets well choreographed by Cox ( who is quite familiar with swiftness of movement) and although the original production has far fewer actors playing more than one role, this ensemble, large and talented makes us see the different types of people that a cab driver meets on a daily basis. Those of who frequently use cabs as a mode of transport, probably never think about what our “driver” might encounter in his or her day. Is there a fear of being robbed? What about the people who ride in the can with no feelings about the driver at all, or those who say and do things that might offend. In this production, we find the cabbie being asked questions by the passengers that get him involved in their lives. Have we ever done this? Got in a cab after a rough day or bad experience and for some reason taken it out on the driver? Have you ever accused a driver of taking a slower route to build the meter?
All of the above are subjects in this strong production that gets into the daily life of a man who moved to Chicago to find work and because he could not find what it was he aanted, ended up driving a cab..not what his dream job was, but a job! If you have seen this before, you might want to revisit this new version of Christams 1992- if you have never experienced “Hellcab”, now is the time! There is no guarantee that it will be extended as many times as last year ( or the original), so plan of getting there during the initial production dates from now through January 12th with performances as follows:
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets are General Admission-$35 and $40 and can be purchased by calling 773-549-1815 or online at www.profilestheatre.org ( seniors and students get a $5 discount)
The theater is located at 4139 N. Broadway ( this is the Mainstage at Profiles) which can easily be reached by using public transportation or of course a “cab”. If you drive, there is some street parking or discounted parking at the lot located at 4100 N. Clarendon ( at Belle Plaine) at $14-$16
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Hellcab”