Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“Night Over Erzinga”

Recommended*** Silk Road Rising is one of our local theater companies devoted to creating  live theater projects ( as well as some online videos) that tell stories of the Asian American, through their eyes. The purpose of these stories is to bring audiences a different view as some of these communities intersect and overlap and many Americans are not sure of who these people are. The current production on the stage of Pierce hall located in the lower level of The Historic Chicago Temple Building ( located at the corner of Washington and Clark Street) is an amazing World Premiere written by the incredible Adriana Sevahn Nichols, entitles ” Night Over Erzinga”, a detailed story of one family over a period of three generations. This is a family  made up of Armenians and Dominicans that deals with the loss of family and how a grandmother can reach  through time and unearth the true love and feelings of  people who tend to keep all within themselves. Understand that the Armenian people went through a great deal of torment and torture during the early 1900’s. Most of us are unaware of the tragedy that befell this culture. This story opens our minds and hearts to their plight.

Directed by Lisa Portes on a sparse , but practical set by Lee Keenan, “Night” takes us from 1938 USA, back to 1914, Armenia, forward to 1929 and then back to 1915 during the first act alone. The first act is called Alice’s Journey and the second, her daughter, Ava’s in Las Vegas, 1961, back to 1948 in Massachusetts and then to 1963 -1970 in New York. In these flashbacks through time, we meet  Alice ( a strong and warm portrayal by Sandra Delgado, who later plays her own daughter, Ava in the second act). Ms Delgado, who has played many role son many stages over the years truly shows her ability as she plays both of these women with style, grace and dignity despite the tragedy of the lives they have led. Also playing  her mother ( as each character) is the enchanting Diana Simonzadeh, who is both captivating and touching as the ghostly characters. These women are amazing as they truly make Mother, Alice and Ava become real and even though we are not alerted as to what year and place we are in during these “flashbacks” , these women make it very clear as to what is happening in each scene.

The father, among other roles is deftly handled by Rom Barkhordar and Levi Holloway does a solid job as the younger Ardavazi, who leaves Armenia to avoid going into war and in America meets and falls in love with young Alice ( one cannot help fall in love with this charming character) Nicolas Gamboa, another actor who takes on many roles in this production is outstanding in all his roles, but truly shows “his stuff” when he take son Opera singer  Bienvenido, who marries Ava and brings her and her estranged father back together. He is Dominican, she Armenian, but in spite of their differences, love brings them together. They do part, but find a way to keep their love strong for the sake of their daughter, Estrella ( played by both Alison Torf and Maliha A Yousef on alternate dates, who also play all the girls at pre-teen ages). This is a storng story of a journey through time for a family that is torn apart. Near the end we find out some important information about Alice that is only hinted at in the early scenes. Whe the truth of her tragic life and the cause of her mental problems is revealed, I can almost assure a tear will fall from your eye.                                                                                                                                                           

The entire production, one that is almost 3 hours from start to end, never feels as if it is long as it is never boring with dead space. The actors mak ethe simple set piece changes to keep the flow constant- the music by Peter J. Storms is sheer perfection to the moods being set in each of the scenes and the costuming ( Elsa Hiltner) and ligting(Sarah Hughey) all add to the sheer magic of the production. Even the simple props (Jesse Gaffney) add to the overall flavor of the story. A simple pocket watch, on its own journey will give you a warm feeling about the relationship to this family. That is the magic of live theater. The other cast members, Carolyn Hoerdemann and Michael Sullivan, who take son several roles truly complete the picture as each of their roles makes you think that this cast is much larger. In reality though, this production cannot transmit the power of the words of Nichols with out the strength of Ms Simonzadeh, Mr. Barkhordar and the amazing Ms Delgado.

“Night” will continue at The Historic Chicago Temple located at 77 West Washington Street through November 11th with performances as follows:

Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling 312-857-1234  ext 201 or online at www.silkroadrising.org where you can also see the rest of their live and internet series.

To see what others think of this production, go to my home page, link on to theatre in Chicago. com and then review round-up and click on “Night Ovder Erzinga”

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