Somewhat Recommended ** Many of us see theater in a different light and for some, the story-telling must be clear and a story that is fairly easy to follow and understand. My star system of rating does not always hold true due to this fact. In the re-staging of “Hit The Wall”, a huge success many years ago at Steppenwolf and then in New York, we see a story about the Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village of 1969. To many, the riots were the first moment of what is termed the Gay Rights Movement. In June of 1969, during the time of memorial services for Judy Garland, as we are told in this story with a book by Ike Holter, there was a great deal of unrest and the police, fearing problems were ready for action ( so to speak).
Directed by Eric Hoff with the majority of the original cast returning to The Greenhouse Theater Center, we enter the upstairs theater through a long corridor instead of the usual double doors. As we make our way down the hall, we hear the vibrant onstage band evoking the music of the time- proto- punk s what it is supposedly called featuring “Born To Be Wild” It is loud and is supposed to set the tone. As audience members took their seats, drink in hand ( oh, yes, there is a bar almost on the stage for the purchase of libations) they began to rock in their seats, causing the entire row to sway. I took refuge in another row, where I was alone and therefore had no sway to the loud rock music.
The story deals with “coming of age” and “coming out” during a time of unrest and fear. There are ten main characters, who all claim “I Was There” 9 several times). The gay guys Steve Casillas and Desmond Gray) who work the streets, the Cross-Dresser , Carson ( Manny Buckley reprising his role), the Newbie (Daniel Desmarais) who makes the trip to “The Big Apple” to explore who he is, the cop ( Walter Briggs) who in reality represents the force, not just one officer, the wild and hell bent Lesbian,Roberta ( the wild Shannon Matesky), the lost soul Madeline ( Mary Williamson) and the other energetic cast members:Sara Kerastas, Steve Lenz and Layne Manzer.
The show is a joint effort of Chicago Commercial Collective and The Iinconvenience Theatre Company. There is no actual set and costumes are for the most part street clothes of the time. In fact, the stage has a stoop with the band upon it and two benches for the most part of the show. The lighting (Cassie Mings and Jeff Glass) is pretty dark and most of the action is really running and fighting ( Ryan Bourque is the Fight Choreographer) (Erin Kilmurray, the Choreographer), John Cicora is the music director and to be honest, 94 minutes of this story being told left me with a headache. The younger audience members seemed to lap it up, so for those of you who love not hearing for an hour after a show and who do not mind having a story stuffed down your throat, you may find this production to your liking.
Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Fridays at 9:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 and 7 p.m.
Tickets range from $20 -$55 and are available at the box office, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.greenhousetheater.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Hit The Wall”