Recommended*** To start with, I must tell you how important it is to get to the theater on time. For some reason, I was under the impression that tonight’s performance of “Reverb” at Redtwist Theatre was an 8 p.m. curtain. In fact, I found my parking place at 7:20, fed the meter and figured I would grab a coffee before I checked in- I was in error. It is a 7:30 curtain and FYI- once the performance begins, there is no late entry. I was able to get into the theater lobby where I watched the entire performance ( 90 minutes, no intermission) on the monitor. It is raised and so I stood for the 90 minutes craning my neck to watch this tense production, but even under these unusual conditions, I could see the power in the production and the strong script written by Leslye Headland. A story about a musician, who wants nothing more than to “make his mark in this world” through his music and his girlfriend, June. Both of these young people have had lives that one might call sad and filled with brutality. What happens to someone who has grown up being beaten on a regular basis? How can they find love? In this tense “dark” drama, skillfully directed by Jonathan Berry, we see that in each, the dysfunctional pasts they have endured lock them into a maze where they cannot love without combat.
For those of you who attend Redtwist on a regular basis, you know that this is truly one of our top “storefronts” delivering solid productions in a very small space. In this production Joe Schermoly has designed a set that feels as if this is a dump of an apartment, a place where our “hero” Dorian ( another solid performance by Peter Oyloe, who can make craziness and dysfunctional characters sympathetic and adds a certain charm as well) Jeff Shields has filled the set with a ton of props that I imagine took a great deal of time to assemble, but the right props do make the story flow better. June is played by Mary Williamson who is fun to watch and the fight scenes ( which become love-making scenes) designed by Ryan Bourque are about as realistic as one can get. Remember, at Redtwist the audience is very close up so each movement has to be perfectly executed, and they were!
While story centers on these two characters, the rest of the cast bring the other characters to life, making the story line have additional meaning. Dorian’s sister, Lydia ( deftly handled by Brittany Birch) comes to him to tell him that their abusive father is dying. While this should bring relief, it is far to late. Dorian is about to meet with a major recording label so that he can make his mark. Ivy ( deliciously played by Ashley Neal) has her own love for Dorian and it is her desire to see him get his fame and fortune for his music. The other two characters are Hank (Nick Vidal) and Shane (Chris Chmelik), musicians as well as friends. There are some very torrid scenes in this production and as I mentioned quite a bit of violence. I guess one might ask if this is possible? Can people, who supposedly love each other only get “hot” when they are in “fight mode”? Having watched a lot of “Law and Order” episodes, of various types, they appear to be possible, and in this drama, very real. In fact, the relationship between the two actors is mind-boggling as it all seems very real to the audience.
While the main characters are dysfunctional, they do have a love for each other that as the story evolves becomes clearer. I don’t want to give away any of the surprises, but will tell you that even when you think there is no way these two could ever be together, Headland manages to bring out some more surprises. I have a strong feeling that Oyloe will see another Jeff nomination and would not be surprised to see one for the wonderful work by Williamson. Remember, I saw this production on a 30″ almost color monitor standing for 90 minutes and truly enjoyed what I saw, now I will go back and sit in the theater and see it the way it was meant to be performed. Live, in living color! Who knows, I may add a star once I do. Meanwhile if you are “skittish”, there is language,violence and sexual scenes, so perhaps you should pass on this one. Or better yet, get over your skittishness and go see a slick production- it’s only 90 minutes of your life!
“Reverb” will continue at Redtwist Theatre located 1044 West Bryn Mawr through June 23rd with performances as follows:
Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. ( remember that 7:30 p.m.)
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $25 and $30 ( seniors and students save $5) and can be ordered by calling 773-728-7529 or online at www.redtwist.org
The theater is located very close to the Red Line/Bryn Mawr stop and while parking is a problem if you care to dine in the area, valet parking is available at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr accross the street.There are many other dining opportunities on the street as well.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Reverb”