Sunday December 17th 2017

“The Fall of the House of Usher”

Recommended*** Most Chicago theater-goers, when they see the name Sean Graney’s name attached to a production, know that they are in for something special and very different. That is what he represents in the theater community.He has now written an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” now onstage in the lower level theater at Chopin Theater on Division Street.This is a tense work of fiction that is considered to be the thriller that set the standard for American Horror. What a perfect location for a play this dark and dreary- a basement theater that has the proper damp and dingy feeling that befits an old house set apart from all the others. Joey Wade’s set is filled with wonderful old relics and the props by Maria DeFabo are marvelous. Rick Sims handles the sound , which has some great effects and his musical composition adds to the incredible mindset  of Graney who takes genius to a different level.

His direction of the three females cast, playing several male roles as well as females is tight and to the point and one never really suspects that the men are played by females as well. TienDoman, Halena Kays and Christine Stulik all give fine performances in this eerie suspenseful story  that examines the psychology of a fractured personality. This is pure melodrama with a spice of comic touches. One of the funniest scenes is that where two of the actresses play the same character going in and out of doors on either side of the stage. In the dark setting, it almost appears as it is one female doing a magical act- this is a well choreographed sequence that relies on sure timing and these ladies pull it off to perfection.

This is a very short adaptation, roughly 70 minutes with no intermission. The time flies very quickly as the story unfolds and we see what it is that Usher needs and wants. His female visitor also has needs, but in a different way as in the original, the visitor is a male. In fact, in the original, the story is very male orientated, but Graney doesn’t use convention in his adaptations. If he did, it wouldn’t be Graney and certainly would not be what we expect from The Hypocrites. Alison Siple’s costumes are very period and Mieka VanderPloeg’s wigs work wonders with allowing the three actresses to appear completely different in their character roles. Jared Moore handles the lighting which is very mood setting and from time to time, along with Sims sound has you grabbing the seat you are sitting in. It also helps to have some help from the CTA as the Blue Line trains add a slight rumbling to the floor and as luck will have it, their timing was better with this production than they are when moving people around during rush hour.

“Usher” will continue at The Chopin Theater located at 1543 West Division Street ( at Milwaukee Avenue and Ashland Avenue) through September 23rd with performances as follows:

Fridays,Saturdays and Mondays ( YES,MONDAYS) at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $28 and can be purchased by calling 773-989-7352 or online at www.the-hypocrites.com

There is FREE parking at Holy Trinity High School ( Division and Noble) just east of the theater as well as some street parking ( metered and not)

To see what others have said visit www.theatreinchicago.com,go to round-up and click on “The Fall of the House of Usher”

 

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