Tuesday November 21st 2017

“Par For the Corpse”

Recommended *** Tonight, while visiting one of Chicago’s hidden treasures (in reality, in Glenview), The Oil Lamp Theater, I was reminded of the days of Shady Lane Farm Theater in Marengo and others such as Tenthouse in Highland Park, both Summer Theaters. Oil Lamp, is however, not just a “Summer”, but an all-year, storefront, located right on Glenview Road in what we might call “downtown” Glenview. In this charming, intimate space, we get more than just theater, we get a theatrical experience different from any other. Artistic Director, Keith Gerth, has put his heart and soul into building a special experience for those who come for his productions. Those who do come, return, and often bringing others.

The current production, a comedy/mystery in two acts is called “Par for the Corpse” and Gerth calls it a “homicidal comedy”. Written by Jack Sharkey, the story takes place in a big old house where a mystery writer, Andy (a marvelous performance by Rachel Silvert) is hard at work on her next novel. The home is that of her sister Gert (deftly handled by Kirsty Collins). Andy is having some problems getting her book on track, As she writes, her characters come to life on the stage as we learn a bit about some of the people in her life.

At this point, I must tell you that there is a party planned and while we wait for the guests to arrive, we learn a bit about some of the people in their lives. It appears that Gert is the “old maid” and that Andy has a boyfriend, and actor named Mark ( RJ Cecott certainly looks the part) who has become  the actor that all women adore. As each of the people arrive and we learn more about them, we also start to notice pieces of a puzzle starting to emerge. The arrivals  Hazel ( a strong character developed by Rachel Whyte) with her husband, Rick ( smoothly handled by Jeff Smith) and Hazel’s “mother” Thelma ( Laura MacGregor) . Then  Lionel (the suave and debonair Nick Dorado) with his lovely new girlfriend, Daniella ( the adorable Mary O’Sullivan). There is one more female, Bettina ( the lovely Elena Tubridy) who graces the stage during the early scenes as Lionel’s lover. At this point , almost all of the plays characters have been joined together with the exception of a neighbor, Jed ( the always reliable Rob Weinstein, a regular on this stage), who comes into the play during the second scene of the first act.

Have I confused you yet? That is what  Sharkey manages to do  once we get through the first intro scene. Once we know the characters and sense some of the friction between them, we are ready to watch as one by one, characters are killed off. Yes, killed off! One by poison, the second by knife and the third by knife (if in fact a third murder does take place, or does it?) A little more confusion ! During all of the activity, we are unsure of who is the villain and just what the motive can or even might be. Sharkey takes us on a magical murder mystery tour for two acts (total running time two hours with a ten minute intermission). Mark, who has been playing a detective on Broadway, as well as all the others try to find the answers as to how those killed were killed and by whom. A real “whodunit” that will have you trying to outguess your neighbors. BUT, please keep it to yourselves and wait it out. It is worth the wait.

Can they trust each other? Can they trust themselves? Smoothly directed by Gerth on a tiny, but well designed set and great costumes and props ( I believe Gerth does it all, except the lighting  (David Miller), the six scenes move quickly, and keep our focus as audience members try to figure out who the killer (or killers) might be. How many crimes we will see? Who will be next? It is charming to watch and a fun experience. The theater itself is also an experience. When you enter after parking in the free lot adjacent or sometimes right at the front door on the street, you see a long bar where you can find snacks such as mixed nuts and m & M’s that can be put in cups and enjoyed in the theater. There are also fresh cookies for your enjoyment and for the Autumn season, they have added some delicious spiced apple cider. These are all included in the price of your ticket. Want a glass of wine? BYO (bring-your-own) and they will pour it for you. Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Glenview and its classy theatrical experience!

“Par for the Corpse” will continue thru November 19th at The The Oil Lamp Theater, located at 1723 Glenview Road (just west of Waukegan Road) in Glenview with performances as follows:

Sat, Oct 21: 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 22: 3:00pm
Thu, Oct 26: 8:00pm
Fri, Oct 27: 8:00pm
Sat, Oct 28: 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 29: 3:00pm
Tue, Oct 31: 8:00pm
Thu, Nov 2: 8:00pm
Fri, Nov 3: 8:00pm
Sat, Nov 4: 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 5: 3:00pm
Thu, Nov 9: 8:00pm
Fri, Nov 10: 8:00pm
Sat, Nov 11: 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 12: 3:00pm
Thu, Nov 16: 8:00pm
Fri, Nov 17: 8:00pm
Sat, Nov 18: 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 19: 3:00pm
 To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at  “Par for the Corpse”

 


Price: -$35

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 847-834-0738

www.oillamptheater.org

photography by Gosia Photography

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