Tuesday June 27th 2017

“Side Effects May Include….”

side effects I know that many other reviewers will not rate this production, “Side Effects May Include….”, now on the stage at The Greenhouse Theater Center on Lincoln Avenue, as I did, but I try to be honest and fair with each play that I see. This is a rough topic to  deal with  as Marc Jaffe and Eric Coble take on Parkinson’s disease and the causes ( or lack of) and effect, it can have on not only the individual, but the entire family. Many of us knew very little about this  condition until Michael J. Fox came down with it and shared his life with America.

Jaffe, a former Seinfeld writer takes us into the world of Phil, a stand-up comic, who is married to an ob-gyn who as it turns out has Parkinson’s. Played by the very real Andrew Pond, who Chicago theater audiences have watched mature on our stages, Phil is sweet and typical male in his thirst of sex and a happy normal life. He uses his own story to create the jokes he shares with his audiences and in this one-man show that is almost two hours long with an intermission, that should be trimmed down to 90 minutes straight through, we get a glimpse of what it must be like to have to deal with the family “breadwinner”, a surgeon who now has a hand that shakes.

They have a teen age daughter who is hidden from the facts as are all their friends. Pond plays all the roles with great feeling and dexterity and plays off the audience as well, making them understand that all of the so called cures out there have “side effects” and many can be worse than the original illness. While this story is based on the true life experience of Jaffe and his wife, it is more of a love story as two people learn to cope with the fate they have been handed. It is also a story of how two people can adjust and change their lifestyles to make the other happy and it also talks a lot about the drugs that are forced into our lives and the side effects that we face once we plop that pill in our mouths and swallow a gulp of water.side effects poster

You may ask, how can this topic be funny? Well, it is not really a comedy, although there are several very funny anecdotes. It is in fact, a heartwarming and touching story that allows us to see that no matter what we face in life, for our own selves or those we love, we can adjust and make it through. Yes, there are side effects, there are always side effects, but often they can be coped with if we truly love the person we are with. We have all watched the tv ads for drugs where they list all the things that MAY take place if you take that drug- often they say these so fast, we are not even sure of what we heard, but in this show, we are led to hear the words that DEATH may come from the drug we may take to save us. WOW! slickly directed by Wayne Mell on a wonderful set by Robert D. Estrin, thal allows us the work area in a comedy club and the bedroom of Phil’s home and some nice lighting effects by Kirk Stateler. There is no mention in the program of who did the props, but I must say the bedroom which appears to have special design by Walgreen’s or CVA is amazing.

As I said, there are some very funny moments and quite a bit of the material is about sex- both lack of , between the partners, and then the surge of sex for both due to the side effects of the drug. But understand, everyone does not get the same urges that Maggie did ( one can only wish), so do not anticipate that taking certain drugs will take you back to your college “salad Days”- it probably won’t. “Side Effects” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the upstairs studio. There is an elevator ( which I wish they would turn off the sound on during a production with the heart and soul that this one has) through February 10th with performances as follows:

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

It is an open seating production with tickets at $25 ( $20 for students and seniors). 10% of all ticket sales will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. To order your tickets visit the box office, call 773-404-7336 or visit www.greenhousetheater.org

To learn more about MadKap Productions and what else they have in store for us, visit www.madkapproductions.com

FREE Parking is available at what used to be Children’s Hospital Parking Lot- check the website for more info.

As I told you upfront, other reviewers will probably not see what I saw. A clean solid production perfromed well by a talented actor. If you don’t lie the topic or it is hard for you to even think about, skip this one, but it is enjoyable and you will walk away with more knowledge than you had when you entered the door.

To see what others think, go to www.theatreinchicago.com , go to review round-up and click at “Side Effects”

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