Remy Bumppo Theatre Company is known for delivering “Think Theatre” . This year, they have chosen a new theme- “Secret Lives, Public Lies” .If you are doing “Think” who better than Tom Stoppard and to make it even better, they have chosen “Night and Day”, which was the first production that this company did 14 years ago. This is a true think piece that deals with the subject of journalism in our world. This play was written in 1978 and even now, the topic is one that is relevant. The question of how journalists get into our lives, celebrity or not just to sell papers is one that is examined. While in today’s world, less newspaper is involved as we have gone to an electronic area where television and Internet has taken over, and bloggers and “Facebookers” have replaced the gossip columnists, the concept is the same. Who has the right to report items that are personal to the public or even worse, print information that is not true and can cause great personal injury to us and the people around us?
In this sterling production directed by James Bohnen on a marvelous set by Tim Morrison, we are transported to a fictitious African country in the mid 1970’s. We are at the home of Ruth and Geoffrey Carson. Geoffrey ( a solid performance by David Darlow, who will leave on October 17th to be replaced by James Krag, another Chicago favorite) is in the mining industry and hassdealings with the politicians. His wife Ruth ( played to perfection by the lovely Linda Gillum) is the bored, sex starved at home wife who seeks the attention of other men to compensate the lack of time with her busy husband. When the play opens they are visited by a photographer, George ( Jeff Cummings) who is to meet a Globe reporter from London, Dick Wagner ( deftly handled by Shawn Douglass) to do an in depth story about the alleged start of a war in this country. What follows is that another reporter,Jacob Milne ( a strong performance by Greg Matthew Anderson) is also visiting to do his own story.
We now follow these characters into their personal lives and the risks they will take to get the story, whether true or not. We also learn of some indiscretions that Dick and Ruth had in London and watch her lure young Jacob to her bed. These are interesting people who are willing to take risks to find the story and to find love. Stoppard also delves into press versions of the truth and how they can go to the next step in order to gain the glory and to sell more newspapers. Ruth, the only woman in the lay does communicate to us the audience acting in some cases as a sort of narrator. When she includes us, the other characters have no knowledge of her doing so.
The other main characters in this show are their son, Alastair John Francis Babbo) and Ernest Perry Jr. as Mageeba, the leader of this country, bringing in the political flavor of why these journalists are there. His is a strong character that attempts to make us feel that he is indeed a fair man versus a dictator. What will the journalists say about him and his policies? What will work best for them to say? This is what Stoppard examines as each member of the press states his case and we are able to “read between the lines”. We all have the lives that we allow people to see into! We all have secrets that are for us alone! What happens if someone takes our personal lives and makes it public? That is what is taking place in society even today as it did back in the 70’s.
This piece is intense theater with many a comical moment to boot, and just to make it even more attractive to the viewers, there is some love ( albeit illicit) as the sensuous Ms Gillum “does her things” , as Ruth, of course. As often done at Remy Bumppo, discussions take place after the play , allowing the audience to learn even more. “Night and day” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. through October 31st with performances as follows:
Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range in price from $30-$55 and can be purchased at The Greenhouse box office, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.remybumppo.org
Discounted parking is available at Children’s Memorial Hospital Parking garage ( just one block north of the theater) at $6 ( bring your ticket with you)