Sunday November 19th 2017


House theatre of Chicago is known for doing things that are very different; plays that are meant to open the eyes of their audiences and those who are regulars are used to seeing “the unusual”. Their current production “ODRADEK”(pronounced  OH-druh-deck) is a thriller about a teen aged boy , Kyle ( deftly handled by Joey Steakley) who cannot accept his parents’ divorce, being in the custody of his father and as it turns out, his father’s new relationship with the boy’s new doctor. Kyle is a loner seeking to escape his life as it is and in doing so befriends a strange mass of forgotten objects under the stairs that has named itself Odradek. The more Kyle suffers the more he leaves the real world in favor of this imaginary world belonging to these lost and forgotten items.

Written by Brett Neveu, who has given us some wonderful “relationship” plays, this one is a little surreal and deals with existential horror; it is very dark and at times very hard to follow- what is real and what are we seeing that is in reality, Kyle’s imagined world. The play is well directed ( Dexter Bullard) with some very eerie music by Josh Schmidt. The play is based on a work by Franz Kafka “The Cares Of A Family Man and The Jeff Wall Painting” and has a lot of mysterybuilt into it. With the family break-up, and his father ( a nice portrayal by David Parker) starting a new relationship with his doctor, he needs some type of relationship and the “monster” seems to work for him.

As the play ( one long act-about 80 minutes in duration) progresses, the relationship between Dad and Doctor  (the very sultry Carolyn Defrin)gets stronger, including sleep-overs, the boy tends to spend more time with his “monster” friend and to prove he cares, adds more “stuff” under the stairs. His world becomes one of hallucinations and we as the audience get to witness a lot of “gross” happenings, never really knowing if they are truly taking place or just in the thoughts of the boy. There are some strange surgical procedures ( are they real or imagined?) and at the end, a stark ending for the boy. While I have recommended this production, I must tell you that this is based on the quality of the set, the direction, the acting ability and the overall picture ( set( Collette Pollard has done a masterful job in such an intimate theater) and Mario De Fabo’s props ( a very important part of making this production whole). The music( Ruben Gonzalez) is very eerie indeed and the Bass adds to the mysterious and dark mood set by this script, not the story-line itself. This is not for the weaker audience.

There are parts of this show that are difficult to view and some of you may find your stomachs turning a bit. The destruction of the boy’s life and hopes is shown in removal of body parts and the boy’s self destructive attempts. This is what makes it a thriller, yet not a Hitchcock type as it is far more macabre. There are many metaphors for life in general; medicated teen years, divorce, the ending of a father/son relationship. Odradek, a monster made up of all the discarded items in Kyle’s life, it appears has claimed him as a discarded item as well. It is hoped that this show will open the eyes of the audience so that they can think about their lives and relationships and see if perhaps they can change direction so that their loved ones will never have to experience what Kyle goes through.

“Odradek” will continue at The Chopin Theater ( the home of House Theatre of Chicago) through March 5th with performances:

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

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by phone at 773-769-3832 or online at

There are $10 tickets available for students and Industry ( people involved in theater) on day of performances ( subject to availability)

The Chopin is located at 1543 W. Division Street ( between Milwaukee Avenue and Ashland Avenue) at the Blue Line Station. There is parking in the area, metered and not.

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