It is not often that I will see a play where I had a great time, watched talented performers bring a story to life ( in fact, on the performances at The Goodman Theatre, in Noah Haidle’s “Smokefall”, I would give the actors a . This is a new work that I am sure has been workshopped along the way, but I found it to be a bit long in some of the scenes, as we are taken down a generational path of one family ( three generations), but it is difficult to know exactly where we are in many of the scenes and there is some confusion as to who the actors are playing in different scenes due to time sequence.
Directed by Anne Kauffman on an amazing set by Kevin Depinet and great trech effects ( the lighting by David Weiner and sound by Lindsay Jones add to the show in a big way) as well as Ana Kuzmanic’s costumes bring all the pieces together. There is a scene to end the first act that takes place in a birth canal as twins prepare to leave the womb and enter the real outsie world that is both comical and thought provoking. While it is probably a bit longer than it need to be, actors Guy Massey and Eric Slater will have you holding your sides from the laughter . They are terrific!
Another key element in this production is watching Chicago “icon” Mike Nussbaum, do his magic. He has always been a treat to watch on almost every stage Chicago has to offer and despite his growing older and possibly shorter over the years, his talent and abilities continue to grow. He can make one line, just by reading it properly mean a great deal. In this show, two standout deliveries are relative to “Always leave them wanting more” and “Bed, Bath and Beyond” ( brings a whole new meaning to “beyond”.
The story, as I said earlier is a bit confusing at times and there are some flashbacks that catch us off guard. The basic story involves Violet( Katherine Keberlein) and her family. She is pregnant with twin boys. Her other child, a daughter Beauty ( an eerie character played to perfection by Catherine Combs) and her father ( the aforementioned Nussbaum) live with her in the family home along with her husband ( who has his own plans for the future, played by Eric Slater). As the play goes on ( two hours, two act , or should it be three?) we watch the years go by and without giving anything away, watch the actors become different characters, but then we have flashbacks where they become who they were earlier. Confused? I know that I was, but I must say, watching the cast do their story-telling made it much simpler and more enjoyable than I expected.
For anyone aspiring to become an actor ( professional or otherwise) this production will teach you how skillful acting ( of course under a skillful director) can make even a weak script look better. This is one of those rare instances where I am torn between how to rate the production itself as I had a good time despite being a bit confused. You can judge for yourself through November 3rd with performances as follows:
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $10-$40 and are available at the theater box office, 170 N. Dearborn Street, by calling 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Smokefall”