Saturday February 24th 2018

“Puff: Believe It Or Not”

Highly Recommended **** When people of my generation hear the word “Puff” they think of cigarettes or perhaps “Puff, The Magic Dragon”, and what that meant. Leave it to Remy Bumppo to find a very old play where this word means a great deal more. The name of the play is “Puff: Believe It Or Not” written by Eugene Scribe (what a great name for a writer) and translated by Ranjit Bolt. This adaptation is having its World Premiere thanks to this brilliant theater company that is not afraid to tackle works that others might never touch. The play is what is termed a “drawing- room comedy” that has many farcical characters and is filled with great comic moments.

The word “Puff” in this play, means lies and deceit. They discuss how newspapers of the day ran advertisements that were designed to lure buyers in and hook them. Imagine that! This production is done “upstairs” at The Greenhouse Theatre Center on Lincoln Avenue and is designed to have audience members on three sides. I will advise you that it is long at 2-1/2 hours plus a 15 minute intermission. While I know that many theater patrons abhor the three act play (with two intermissions), I do feel that the First act, in three plus scenes, could easily be cut down to accommodate this type of presentation.

Now, back to the story itself. A Calvary officer has returned to Paris  from the battles of France’s North African colony. His name is  Albert d’Angremont ( played to perfection by Joshua Moaney). He is the best of the best and the most honorable of soldiers (and men). His quest is to be with the woman he loves and to make sure that the widow of his General is allowed her husband’s pension. On the road, he meets Cesar Desgaudets (played to perfection by Chicago favorite David Darlow), who is the master of the “Puff”. He knows well how to use it to his best advantage.

It turns out that Desguadets is one of the legal guardians for Antonia ( the lovely Netta Walker) who is in fact the woman who Albert wants to wed. Desguadets has a daughter as well. Corinne ( a strong performance by Kelsey Brennan) who is a writer and is in fact working on her memoirs. While she is close with Antonia, she is just learning of the special relationship between her and Albert. Antonia is promised however to  Conte de Marigan ( a great character developed by Christopher Sheared) a foppy-type of writer who is desired by Corrine, herself.

What we have during these many , many scenes is the lies and tricks of each characters to allow the outcome of the story to be slanted to make it a “happy ending”. We learn about investing through “options” which have a very special effect on the ending of the play.  The play is filled with plots and sub-plots, as well as planning tricks to change the outcome of the lives of our characters. While it may sound confusing, watching the brilliant performances as directed by Nick Sandys makes it all seem much clearer. It is a play about “class” and “culture” and the shock of mixing the two, when in fact, sometimes it doesn’t mix well, makes for a lot of situations that are very comic indeed.

The set by Joe Schermoly is amazing but appears to have some little problems in changing. The design is done so that with a few slight moderations we go from one set to another.  On opening night, they had a few situations that delayed this a trifle. The lighting (Andrew H. Meyers) and sound (Victoria Deiorio, who also wrote the original music used) are perfect and the costumes ( Rachel Lambert) very fitting. Jamie Karas handled the props to perfection. I must tell you that the set is stunning and the changes do make a different room with great ease.

Rounding out the cast are: Jerry Bloom (ensemble), Matt Browning (ensemble), Peter A. Davis as Napoleon Bouvard, the publisher that both Corinne and the Comte work with and for, and Gregory Geffrard as Max, Antonia’s older brother who is also a master of his own “Puffs” dealing with investors and the stock market (yes, back in the mid 1800’s there were investors and a market). The show is well written and therefore well translated in order to get the audience caught up in the web that is woven into all of the tricks and plots contained in “Puff”. Listen very closely for items that might be called “fake news” or “alternative facts”. The beauty of this play is that despite all of the trickery and lies, and there are many, we have a happy ending and moral justice gets served!

“Puff: Believe It Or Not” will continue at The Greenhouse Theatre located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through January 7th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2:30 p.m.

Special performances: Wednesday 12/20 at 2: 30 p.m. additional performance

Thursdays  12/21 at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 23rd and 30th also at 2:30 p.m.

Special Events- for special performances (touch -tours) audio described, visit www.RemyBumppo.org

Tickets  range from $42.50- $52.50 and are available at the box office, by calling 773-404-7336 or online at www.RemyBumppo.org

Parking is available in the area ( metered or by special area parking pass) and there are some garage spaces available at LAZ lot next to Mrs. Green’s Market at Webster and Lincoln , Lincoln Garage on Lincoln (the old Children’s garage.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Puff: Believe It Or Not”.

 

 

Leave a Comment

More from category

“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis
“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis

★★★★★ Sublime music mismatched with fluffy subject matter—that’s the long-standing criticism of Wolfgang [Read More]

“The Wolves”
“The Wolves”

As someone who has spent many years around soccer, in particular, girl’s/women’s soccer, watching the [Read More]

“Southern Gothic”
“Southern Gothic”

★★★★★Let me preface my review of the latest production at Windy City Playhouse, by explaining that it is not [Read More]

“Surely Goodness and Mercy”
“Surely Goodness and Mercy”

Highly Recommended **** One of my favorite “storefront” theaters is Redtwist, a PURE storefront on Bryn [Read More]

“Breach”
“Breach”

The actual title of the play now onstage at The Victory Gardens Theater is “Breach: a manifesto on race in [Read More]