Shattered Globe’s latest production, a wonderful rendition of Martin McDonagh’s “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” directed to perfection by Steve Scott has only one drawback- the theater space being utilized at The Athenaeum. This second floor studio is probably the most uncomfortable place to see a play. While it has the intimacy that makes this play come alive, the seats are broken and are designed for a person of around 4’8″. I am hopeful that this theater company will seek another space as a production this good deserves a better home.
“Beauty Queen” is of course another Irish play and the accents used by the four actors are authentic, so one really has to focus in order to capture every word in this lovely and sad tale about Maureen ( Eileen Niccolai is divine in her building of this character) a 40 year old who lives and tends to her mother, Mag ( deftly handled by Linda Reiter) who has a strong hold on her and is unwilling to ease up. Maureen meets a man, Pato ( strongly portrayed by Joseph Wiens) , who she had known in her younger years,and in defiance of her mother, brings him home or the evening.
The next morning brings a change to Maureen, who now has something to hold over her mother. Perhaps this man will change her life and take her away from the dreary life she leads. He heads off to London to work and while there, writes her a letter n which he expresses his desire for her to join him in America where he has been offered a job. The turn of events that transpires in the second act changes her life forever, but not in the way it appears to be going. All promise of the bright future is destroyed and in the end Maureen begins to become her mother. I found the story intriguing with some wonderful little events ( that I really cannot tell you about or I would destroy the events and the outcome of this brilliantly written piece). There is mystery and intrigue and while it is a romantic story filled with biting humor, it is also a tragedy for all of the main characters with the exception of Pato’s brother Ray ( Kevin Viol).
The set by Amy Chisman) is very back county Ireland and the lighting (Shelly Strasser) and sound (Roger Smart) complete the picture. This is a show with lots of props ( Dan Wilson) and they are wonderfully done. We even get to see some actual cooking onstage. These characters are truly unforgettable. You feel for Maureen with the life she leads ( not of her own choosing) and you hope for her when love appears to be in her grasp, but McDonagh changes her path along the way and what appears to be a story that will end happily, is far from what we get. This production will continue at The Athenaeum Theatre Studio 2 located at 2936 N. Southport ( at Lincoln Ave) through February 27th with performances:
Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets range from $25-$32 depending on the night and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 800-982-2787 or online at www.ticketmaster.com
You can also visit the box office weekdays between 3 and 7 p.m.
Student and seniors, with ID can get a $5 discount. Patrons who show a ticket stub from Steppenwolf,Remy Bumppo,Eclipse, New RockTheatre or About Face theaters will also get $5 off.
Shattered Globe is in its 19th season of bringing global theater to Chicago- theater that raises questions and asks the theater audience to think. For more information visit www.shatteredglobe.org