Highly Recommended **** About Face Theatre is known for its ability to create exceptional, innovative and adventurous plays in order to spread the word and open dialogue on sexual and gender identity while at the same time being able to educate and entertain its audiences. Their current production, a World Premiere production, “Le Switch” allows them to live up to the expectations of the audience they have built, and then some! Written by Artistic Associate Philip Dawkins and smoothly directed by Stephen Brackett, this is a story about a young man, David (powerfully played by Stephen Cone), who is Gay and has come face to face with who he is, cannot find love as others around him have. His twin sister Sarah (another incredible performance by Elizabeth Ledo), who is also his “soul mate” (twins often are this to each other, even fraternal) wants him to be happy. His roommate Frank (well played by Mitchell J. Fain) has had a great love in his life, but in those days, they could not marry.
It is his very best boyhood friend, Zachary (incredibly played by La Shawn Banks, who truly shows his versatility in this role) who is about to get married. He is very excited about the rules having been changed so that no longer do men have to hide who they are and who they love. David is to be his “best man” and so when they go to Montreal for the bachelor party, and David finds himself meeting a young florist, we watch as his world begins to change. David meets a young florist Benoit (deftly handled by newcomer Collin Quinn Rice) as he purchases some flowers to bring to the party. However, he does not make the party as he spend the evening with the young man who has caught his attention as no one has ever done in the past.
In the time that follows, David and his what they call non-traditional family begin to look at themselves through clearer glasses instead of the rose-colored they have viewed through in the past. They are not as happy as they seem. They are also not as alone as they feel. With the love that Benoit offers David, and which is not accepted as readily as one would think, each character begins to take a deeper look into the lives they have chosen for themselves. Each learns more about themselves and finds a path that will be the right choice for them. We all make choices in our lives- some good, some bad, but the outcome of the choices that we make are what we must live with.
With the turns and choices presented in this witty script by Dawkins, well played by each actor in this solid cast, he is able to lead us into another world, one that is unfamiliar to many of us, showing us what this population deals with on a day to day basis. David and his extended family learn more about the institute of married life, commitment and in reality, what a “gay” person must be aware of. I do have to say that there is a great deal of comedy in this play, with Banks bringing a whole new side to his talent out for us to see. Just watching him bring Zachary to life is worth the ticket price. He is a stitch! But, as always Fain is the perfect grown-up and the other cast member, in particular, the chemistry between Cone and Rice is sheer magic to watch. This is a love story that will bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart!
Theater Wit, stage two is another of the three studio type venues in the building, but because they are designed to be flexible, each play has a different look as far as seating and stage areas. This one is on a set (Joe Schermoly) that is designed to be a New York apartment, but can change to other locations within minutes, keeping the flow of the story telling on an even keel. They may have tried a bit much on the tech side with one scene that is supposed to be in the park, with leaves falling. A Nice effect, but what is the bench in the scene is in reality the coffee table in the apartment. This aside, I understand that trying to use a set in a multi-task way is what the theaters are doing today. This being the only flaw in an otherwise wonderful production, I say, who cares?
“Le Switch” will continue at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont in Chicago through February 21st with performances as follows:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tickets$35 adults/$20 for students and seniors.
Street parking is available (some metered, some not), valet parking and for those of you dining at Cooper’s ( a fun place with good food) they offer their lot for free.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Le Switch”