Over the years, The Metropolis Performing Arts Center, or as many call it The Metropolis Theater, has not lived up to the expectations that the area thought would come to light. While they have had some good shows/productions and a lot of solid Cabaret nights, many had hoped that they would bring to Arlington Heights much more. It was never meant to be at the level of Drury Lane or Marriott Lincolnshire, but I still believe that under the right leadership, The Metropolis could bring a higher level to the Northwest suburbs ( and they surely deserve it). That being said let me tell you about the current production, Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”.
Probably his best comedy, “Private Lives” is a true farce about love and relationships. A five character play, if you count the maid in act three (played in the production by Shari Mocheit).This is a character that could, for all intents and purposes, be written out which could shave six minutes off the running time of two hours and ten minutes (two intermissions, which does sell more beverages, if nothing else). Directed by Dylan S. Roberts on a wonderful set, at least in acts two and three, by Katie Alvord, the story is about divorcees Elyot (charmingly played by Goran Norquist) and Amanda (sexily brought to life by Allison McGrath) who are both on their honeymoons, with their new spouses, Victor (deftly handled by Aram Monisoff) and Sybil (the lovely Erin O’Shea) who are in the adjoining rooms and share a balcony.
The first act is pretty much about these new couplings finding happiness on their honeymoons. When Elyot becomes aware that Amanda is next door, they find that the love they had and faded has been rekindled, and they run off with each other to Amanda’s flat in Paris. In the second Act, we witness their love/hate relationship first hand. They love each other- they hate each other, and then they fight. Boy,do they fight. No holds barred and no body part off- limits. The second act ends with the jilted spouses showing up at the door.
Act three, which could be redone as a new scene with no break is about the feelings of Sybil and Victor as far as the relationships that have been splintered and destroyed. There are highs and lows as we watch Amanda and Elyot drift further apart, each one wanting to take off and escape the others. But as the act ends, along with the play, there will be a few surprises. I will not spoilit for you except to say, the ending is fitting for the characters that Coward has created in this farcical look at love!
I wanted to rate this show higher. In fact, I had hoped that this selection was one that a local company could pull off. When we entered the theater and I saw the first set, I was feeling that maybe we were headed in the right direction. While the acting was fine , the blocking in Act one was a bit off due to soe fake trees that divided the balconies. When the actors sat, it was difficult to see their faces. Act two was better, but despite the beautiful set and wonderful props (Maggie Neumayer outdid herself), I did not understand the use of all the doors. In a farce doors are part of the comedy. Not so in this one. A tip of the hat to the tech people for the sound and lighting and to Claire Yearman for the fight choreography (it is a miracle that Norquist and McGrath were not hurt) and to Cathy Tantillo for her wonderful costumes. There are many fake cigarettes used in this production, but it appeared that the actors were not smokers making them appear very awkward. I realize that this play takes place in the 1930’s, when everyone smoked, but it could be cut down and save those awkward moments.
“Private Lives” will continue thru February 15th at The Metropolis, located at 111 West Campbell, in Downtown Arlington Heights, with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Wednesday, January 28th at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $38 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-577-2121 or online at www.MetropolisArts.co
There is free parking on the street and in the enclosed garage adjacent to the building. Downtown Arlington Heights has lots of dining choices within walking distance of the theater and two IN the building.e opted for a little Irish dinner at the pub directly across the street, Peggy Kinnane’s. Large menu with many Irish favorites but also a normal pub menu and gobs of salads and burgers galore. Try the Mashed Potato Balls on their small bites- mashed potatoes combined with bacon,green onion and cheddar cheese, breaded and fried served with sour cream for dipping- Oh sure and what a tasty treat. You might try this one with one of their many beers or a glass of stout.
To see what others say about the play, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Private Lives”