Somewhat recommended** One of my favorite “storefront theaters”, Redtwist, over the years has truly brought memorable theater to the tiny “black box” they call home in the Edgewater Community. I have found them of the best in quality and use of the tiny space they call home. It may be , of late, that while they still have solid actors and wonderful staff, they have fallen back on the play selections they have opted to bring to life. It is not the actors! It is certainly not the set! It has to be the scripts they select and how they present them to the audience that loves to attend Live theater at their location.
Their current production. “Love and Understanding” is part of what they are calling their “More Red” series, by British Playwright Joe Penhall. While he is British, I truly see no reason for this particular play to be done as a british play with accents. There is only one or two mentions of England, so why not make the play more “American”, since then the actors could just develop their characters using their own speech patterns. Director Jaclynn jutting, has found a way to use this small theater to simulate an apartment ( of course being British, a Flat), a medical office /examining room in a hospital, a Pub, a bedroom, the bank of a river and a hospital room, all with just a small change here and there, thanks to the clever design by Keenan R. Minogue). There are also some great props used and put out by stage manager Megan Gallagher, who often is the forgotten individual who makes the pieces of the play fit together.
I will say that I was a bit dumbfounded by the uses of empty props when it came to drinking scenes. Pouring air instead of coffee, adding spoons of nothing and turning bottles of wine upside down to get zero into an empty glass, is disturbing and to me distracting. As we, the audience enter into the magic world of theater, we need to be total in our desire to believe what we are being shown and these empty things, do nothing to bring us into the story. In fact, in some cases, the distraction may take us away from what the writer and director are trying to do.
The cast of three are all able actors. The story is about a young couple, both Doctors, Neal ( Joel Reitsma) and Rachel ( the enchanting Stella Martin) who share their lives and an apartment/Flat in London. They are overworked and underfed ( when it comes to sharing their lives) when an old friend comes to visit. Richie ( deftly handled by Michael Woods) has just lost his girlfriend and is a druggie who over the years has always been able to manipulate Neil to get what he wants. In this case, it is more than money and drugs or even a place to stay, but in fact, Rachel that is on his short list of things that he should have, that Neal does.
There a lot of scenes in this play, making the total running time over 2 hours and fifteen minutes ( with an intermission) and to be honest, some of the scenes have no bearing on the final outcome. There are some scattered jokes throughout the play, to relieve tension between the parties and some sexual scenes ( nothing to make it “R” or X rated). This play is presented in rotating rep with the MAIN show “happy” by Robert Caisley as part of what they are calling their “More Red Series> The late night show “44 Ways To End Your Sex Life” is their DARK RED SERIES on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. ( all tix are $15 for that)
“Love and Understanding” is only presented on
Saturdays at 3 p.m. ( an afternoon delight)
Sundays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are only $20 ( $15 for students and seniors) and can be purchased by calling 773- 728-7529 or online at www.redtwist.org
The theater is located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr, just east of the Red Line Bryn Mawr Station with plenty of bus services available as well as metered parking on the street ( on Sundays, the meters are OFF) and there are some spots on the side streets as well ( some with NO meters). Several restaurants “partner” with Red Twist and offer dining discounts for the theater:
Francesca’s Bryn Mawr 773-506-9261
That Little Mexican Cafe 773-769-1004
The Little India 773-728- 7012
all on Bryn Mawr and
Apart Pizza at 5624 N. Broadway/at Bryn Mawr 773-784-5213
To see what others are saying, visit wwwtheatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Love and Understanding”
remember, this is a smaller “storefront” with only about 48 seats, so if you want to see this during its short run- closes March 24th, call today!