recommended I must start this review off with a disclaimer- Trap Door Theatre’s production of “Overweight,unimportant:Misshape-A European Supper” by Werner Schwab, is not for everyone. It is a strong story about humanity and inhumanity that has lots of sexual overtones,some violence and even cannibalism, so if you have just enjoyed a satisfying dinner before the theater, you might want to take some tums first ( or at least carry something with you for the acidity you might feel). Trap Door, in its Mission Statement says they are committed to seeking challenging ,yet obscure works and bring them to life. Choosing Schwab’s work decidedly meets this goal. The theater located at 1655 West Cortland ( one you do not see from the street) in the Bucktown area of the city is small and very intimate- two rows deep on two sides allows us to feel that we are in the room where the action is taking place.
In this production, which takes place in a European Saloon/bar ( a wonderful set designed by Joey Wade) we are in a bar/saloon that is frequented by the characters in this cast daily- There is Jurgen , the professor type ( played handsomely by Kirk Anderson) who says many of the things Schwab is trying to express to us about our ego and our self and not hearing what others say ( even when listening), Married couple- Piggy ( Andy Hager) and Bunny (Beata Patch) , who are sexually depressed and in deep want of a child they cannot have,Karlo (deftly handled by H.B. Ward) a macho type who feels that a good hit followed by sex is or should be a way of life, his live-in Herta ( Nicole Wiesner, who truly understands Schwab) who starts off as a lowly, sad woman and develops to a powerhouse, Pussy ( a delightful performance by Carolyn Hoerdemann) the local prostitute and the bar owner ( a powerful job by Dado).These are the regulars. This is their home away from home!
On this particular night, as we are introduced and get to meet Schwab’s characters, we also see a beautiful couple seated high above the regular members, as if to say, they are “above” the character and morals of those who frequent that bar on a regular basis. This loving couple is played by Geraldine Dulex and David A. Holcombe. During the first scene of this play, this couple is speechless, they dine, they kiss, they stare and when Pussy plays the jukebox, they embrace, madly fondling each other as if they were ready to make love, but each time, as they get closer to doing more, the bar keeper stops the music. Director Yasen Peyankov ( one of the veterans of Steppenwolf Theatre) allows us to see the dark side of these characters as well as the comical way they can jab and laugh at each other, but the question in my mind is whether Schwab is using language to convey his attitude toward the masses. As we progress through this 90 minutes ( no intermission) story, each character is somewhat stripped of their identity by the others en mass. Ant the Beautiful couple, who are gone in the second scene, then reappear, making one think that perhaps the ending of the first scene did not really take place. Perhaps it was a dream or a discussion by those who frequent the bar after the couple laughs at them and leaves. Perhaps it is then that fantasy takes over and shows us what they are really feeling. To be honest, I am not sure, but I think I prefer what i thought to be the case over what it appeared to be.
While the content and the language of this play is not great, the actors are solid enough to make these somewhat flimsy characters take on true and real identities. Each has their own probelms and we , as an audience, can feel for them, or not! The overall production is well worth exploring for the theatrical experience. It is always a treat to see smaller companies, where budgets are almost nil take on major shows and do it with what is called “spit and cardboard”. The set looks good! The lighting by Richard Norwood quite impressive;Michale Bodeen’s original music is sheer perfection ;Lena Sands has found costumes that are fitting for their characters. Kirk Anderson’s fight choreography is brilliant in that we are just a few feet from the action and a true tip of the hat for the great props assembled ( and watched over) by Lisa Much and Meredith Miller.
“Overweight” will continue to run at Trap Door through the 13th of November with performances on Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. as well as Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets are a mere $20 except for Saturday, $25
Thursday night is 2 for 1 night.
Trap Door tickets can be ordered by calling 773-384-0494 or visiting www.trapdoortheatre.com
The theatre is located at 1655 West Cortland, just west of Ashland and just south of Armitage. There is street parking available ( some metered, others not), a few fun pubs and dining spots and on the south side of the street, hidden at the back of a fenced in doorway, a theater is waiting to entertain you- and they will!