Recommended***Sex and Religion are topics that have often been dealt with in movies and on the stage. In the current production on the stage of Writers’ Theatre, that charming and intimate venue in Glencoe, a play such as “Hesperia” written by Randall Colburn allows the audience to feel that they can get into the lives of the characters he has penned. This is a story about a boy and a girl who grew up together in rural America, fell in love ( or what they thought was love) had a semi life and then went into the “porn ” industry, making films and videos. The girl, Jessie leaves and heads back close to where she grew up, but a town where she had never been before, Hesperia! She took on a different persona for her new life, that of Claudia ( a name that becomes more revealed as the plot and the characters are explored).
Claudia ( a solid performance by Kelly O’Sullivan) has become involved with Trick ( deftly handled by Erik Hellman) who is the youth Minister, a true man of God and one that couldn’t be any nicer and understanding about life, with the exception that he has yet has not lived a life anywhere near what Claudia has. They are very content in their “bible town” and are planning to get married. As the play begins, Ian ( a strong performance by Nathan Hosner) arrives. He has been sent an invitation to come, but appears to be unwelcome by Claudia. The question may be , did she invite him to stir up old feelings? or, did she invite him to show him that he could change as well?. Ian is also a porn star who stayed in LA when she left and tried his hand at more that just porn acting, but failed. Meanwhile, he was glad to get out of town as he is in debt and there are two men seeking him.
As Ian settles into the town, he begins to see the light about finding peace and has deep respect for how Trick forgives him his past and tries to make him search for his own God. Ian stays in town ( again in hiding and feeling safe) and helps a young Christian student of Trick to gain a bit of humanity, but young straight laced Aaron ( beautifully played by Tyler Ross) comes across a DVD and in “peeking” closely realizes that Ian and “Claudia/Jessie” are its stars. While this is taking place, Trick’s cousin Daisy ( the adorable Rebecca Buller), another “pure virgin” finds herself falling in love with Ian, who is a lonely man. Ian tries to keep his distance but in the end, chemistry seems to win.
Directo Stuart Carden uses a soft hand in putting the pieces together in this 90 minutes of sheer energy by five strong and gifted actors. The set is simple(Chelsea Warren), just a deck that is used for many different scenes and some wheat and other high growths to indicate the ruralness of the area. The lighting(Heather Gilbert) is mood setting and as for costumes(Jacqueline Firkins) there might have been just a few more, if for no other reason, than to help us see the times have progressed. There are times, however, that the simplicity of the “stuff” on the set and used by the actors detracts from the message that the playwright is trying to express. This is a touching story about people and change as well as maturation and of course sexual feelings. In the two “love stories” we have experience meeting virginity and we wonder if these relationships can work at all.. As you exit the theater, get in your car and take the drive back home, you will find yourself still immersed n what you just bore witness to and more questions will arise for you and your other audience members ( spouse, date, friend or relative). You may question some of the content as it is unfamiliar to you, but you will see just how important religion and sex can be to individuals who are kept from th e early explorations you may have had. This is a tight 95 minutes ( no intermission) that will keep you involved.
“Hesperia” will continue at Writers’ Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court which is just off of Green Bay Rd and south of Dundee Rd. in Glencoe ( not far from Sheridan Rd or Edens Highway) through March 18th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m. ( no 6 p.m. on 3/18)
There are Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. February 8yh and March 14th and no evening show on 2/8)
Tickets range from $35-$70 and are available at the box office located down the street at the “other theater” 376 Park Avenue ( the Vernon Book Store), by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org