Anyone who has ever been to Writers Theatre in Glencoe knows that they bring some of the best to the North Shore and when it comes to “intimate” theater, their space in the back of the book store- Books on Vernon, is by far the best! Many of us speak about the “storefront theater”, the Black Box theater where each production is a total change from the previous one- Writers goes even one step more in that you enter what appears to be an old fashioned book store ( of which few remain in today’s world) filled with wonderful books for children and adults and a great deal of theater books. In the back of this enchanting space, there is a theater that can be molded in any shape or direction that the director desires to please the audiences that he or she is going to share feelings with- in their current production, “Port Authority”, a Midwest Premiere, written by Conor McPherson and directed skillfully by William Brown, they have opted to creat a small stage area where the entire audience ( about 54 chairs) face the action on the very tiny stage.
McPherson’s works have been viewed in Chicago theaters with Steppenwolf being one of the theater companies that loves what he does. “The Seafarer”, “Shining City” and Dublin Carol” are some of the notable works. As you might guess from his name and the aforementioned titles, he is an Irishman and his stories explore the heart and soul of his people. In “Port Authority”, a three character play, that runs about 100 minutes with no intermission, we are treated to three men, each of a different generation talk about their life experiences.
The young man Kevin ( a splendid character building adventure by Rob Fenton) has left his family home to move in with some of his buddies, leaving behind a normal family life for the adventure of a young man becoming an adult. The next character Dermot ( deftly handled by John Gray) is a middle age family man who lands the job of his life with all the perks that one could ever dream of, only to find out that his getting the position was a case of mistaken identity as he shares the same name as the man they intended to offer the position to and the third man, Joe ( a wonderful portrayal by Chicago favorite Patrick Clear), an elder man who tells us his tale of falling in love with someone who he never really knew, but who somehow changed his life.
In fact, all three stories, told to us by these three men, different in many ways, interlockingly told, make us aware of how small things that take place in one’s life, may in fact be the changes that wake us up and allow us to change. I for one, in my own life, after recently having a heart attack have learned to make changes so that I can enjoy life’s second chance, so I understand how something can have a greater effect than one might anticipate. The Irishman has been written about over the years and has a reputation of a drunken sort, but as one who has been to the glorious Island, and meeting the people as I went “pubbing” every night, I can tell you that they are a heartwarming people filled with heart and soul that cannot be touched by others- they are loving and kind and yes, they do a like a bit of the brew and a drink to celebrate life itself, but why not?
This is a play about choices- we all make choices and in many cases, the choices we make are those that decide our own fates, so those who complain that they were destined to fail or fall in love or land that job or be fired from that job, may have indeed made a choice along the way that caused them to fail ( or succeed). In these three stories, many will see some part of their life portrayed by these men and some of the female audience members may in fact find that they are attracted to these three men, who are as different as night and day, yet, share some slight characteristics. This is a warm and charming afternoon or evening of story telling, written by a truly “romantic” writer, directed by a briliant director and performed by three marvelous talents. Gray was filling in for John Hoogenakker, who I am sure handles this part as well as Gray.
The set by Martin Andrew is a simple stage with some chairs and a bench and the lighting(Sarah Hughey) is very effective as is the sound(Andrew Hansen), the props (Julie Eberhardt) and the costumes Rachel Lariyz). This is not a show with glitz, but rather a show with heart and feeling and as is the case with McPherson’s work, that is what the audiences expect and at Writers Theatre, that is what they get!
“Port Authority” will continue at Books on Vernon, located at 664 Vernon Avenue in Glencoe through February 16th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.nm.
Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.
FYI- I attended on a Sunday afternnon with the Bears in town,and a beautiful sunny, crisp day and they had a full house, so, I suggest you getting your tickets as soon as possible as seating is limited.
Tickets range from $35-$70 and are available at the Writers box office located one block north of the books on Vernon at 376 Park Avenue in Glencoe, by phoen at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org
Lots of free parking in Glencoe and there ar efew spots to grab a bite as well. “Tweet Seats” If you follow Writers on Twitter Twitter.com.WritersTheatre, each day at 3 p.m.
when tickest are available, you can save some money and you can only purchase them at the website.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at Pport Authority”