Tuesday May 30th 2017

“The Caucasion Chalk Circle”

Somewhat recommended  There are times that we have to give some of our young theater companies an A for effort, even though what they presented to us what not the experience that we had hopes for. Theatre Mir is a young company that as its mission states they are “committed to producng engaging and entertaining theater while seeking to engage audiences in an ongoing dialogue about social , political and global issues through theatrical productions.” They have taken on  a new adaptation of Brecht’s powerful drama written over 60 years ago. The story is about a young girl Grusha ( a fairly strong performance by Kristen Secrist) who sacrifices all that she has to care for an abandoned child, left behind by the Governor’s wife (Mira Vasiljevic) during the civil war that has caused her husband’s demise. We travel with her on her journey to save the child from what might take place should he be discovered and during this time, peace takes place and  the mother comes back to claim her son. It takes us about two hours to get to this point ( about an hour longer then the show needed to be) and though a singer ( Zeke Sulkes does his best to narrate and tell the tale and has a nice voice) we are led through the ups and downs that Grusha must endure.

This production, on the mainstage at The Viaduct theatre is a partial musical (Chance Bone is the composer and Musical director), partial drama and partial comedy and under the direction of Jonathan Berry on a bare bones set by Chelsea Warren could possibly be a much stronger piece and may even one day work! It needs to be tightened and have the story follow a trail that is clearer to the audience. There were some clever ideas utilized by the production team- puppets and a wonderful crossing of a non-existent bridge to escape the soldiers chasing Grusha. They even had two of their platform stages equipped with doors to represent homes she stops at for help- one door opens and closes, the other one, however doesn’t ( a bit confusing). There is a wedding scene where Grusha marries a man on his death bed in order to escape and the monk ( Josef Bette) overplays this drunk monk making it inane instead of comical. Yosh Hayashi plays Azdak, who becomes the judge that makes the final ruling on which “mother” gets to keep the boy and although he is quite funny, he is somewhat limited by the script and  the director- this could be a strong role that actors would love to play, if cleaned up. The ensemble plays many roles and in a few cases, some stood out- I was impressed by Pat King in his handling of comedy and the delightful Mallory Nees, who also plays a mean concertina and Rachel Slavick made all of her characters uniquely different than the others.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” will continue through April 3rd and will then be followed by State Theatre of Chicago doing their version, “The Voodoo Chalk Circle” adapted by Chelsea Marcantel from April 8th through May 1st. This version takes place in New Orleans when a hurricane strikes and the city has to rebuild. visit www.statetheatrechicago.comfor more info. This will complete what these two companies has billed as thier “Full Circle Festival”. The performance schedule for Caucasian  is Thursday,Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. The running time is 2 1/2 hours and tickets  are $25 ( with discounts for seniors and students) to purchase tickets call  773-296-6024 or visit www.viaducttheatre.com.

Viaduct is located at  3111 N. Western Avenue ( just south of Belmont) and there is a parking lot at the southwest corner where you can park and pay $5 at the box office. Open seating in the intimate space, but if you come early, there is a bar and you can relax and prepare for 2 1/2 hours.

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