Highly Recommended **** While Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier is known for its tributes to the great works of William Shakespeare, and their ability to transform the classics into a more modern day theatrical experience, they are also a cultural adventure place where the works of others can be transformed to something even better than the original. Does that sound a bit confusing? Well it should! This famed classical theater company is now presenting, on its main stage, a retooling of a classic David Ives farce, “The Heir Apparent”, staged to perfection by Tony Award winning John Rando.
First, let me explain the farce, to those of you unfamiliar with this art form- poetry in motion is what the actors must do to create the laughs and the perfect timing that it takes to “pull this off”. Split second timing to be exact. If they are not as directed, there could be very little in the way of laughter, and far more people dozing off. Tonight’s opening of “The Heir Apparent” had the audience in hysterics for over two hours. Thank the Lord, for the interval known as Intermission, where we could settle down, rest our sides from the laughter and regain our composure for the second act. I must tell you, it only takes a few minutes before we are right back into it- wow! Are we into it!
Ives is known for his plays, his screen writing and novels. He also enjoys adapting classics for the enjoyment of today’s audiences. Some of you might recall the previous “A Flea In Her Ear” and “The School For Lies” that also appeared onstage at CST. “The Heir” is an adaptation of the famous comic masterpiece “Le Legataire” by Jean-Francois Regnard. A swift comical look at what happens in the life of a young aristocrat, Eraste (Nate Burger appears to be having the time of his life in this role), who appears to have it all: good looks, the prospects of the perfect fiancée and a very rich uncle who it seems is searching for the one person in his life that will gain his fortune when he passes on. The one major problem in this scenario- the uncle refuses to die! In fact, it is his desire to wed the fiancée of his nephew. Isabelle (beautifully played by Emily Peterson).
Uncle Geronte (an incredible performance by Paxton Whitehead) is surrounded by a strange mixture of servants and family as well as friends. His maid Lisette ( Jessie Fisher) and her beau Crispin (an outstanding performance by Cliff Saunders, who it appears truly understands the genre of “farce”) are also seeking a bit of gold at the end of their rainbow. Along with Mr. Burger, these three do most of the slapstick “shtick” to the NTH degree. Linda Kimbrough is exquisite as Madame Argante, the lady who desires Uncle Geronte. The other character in the story is the lawyer Scruple (deftly handled by Patrick Kerr) who has an unusual role that will take you by surprise in a wonderful scene about Geronte’s drawing up his will.
Yes, the entire premise of the story is just that. One man, with great wealth, wanting to leave his worth to that special person, “The Heir Apparent”, whoever that may be. Of course, everyone on the stage, feels that they should be that party and what we have is lots of misunderstandings. When the old man announces that he has decided to wed his nephews fiancée and disinherit the nephew, Eraste and his friends take the task at hand to make sure that they get what they have coming to them. This is where the show gets very funny- inane, yes! Silly, Yes!, but hysterical , for sure!
No matter how your day was, if you enter the CST to see this production, you will leave with the largest of smiles on your face (and also in your heart). You will have the time of your life. This company understands the “farce”, and knows how to play the audience- well! The set (Kevin Depinet) is handsome and practical. They even dig up the stage searching for hidden treasures. The costumes (David Woolard) are very period. The lighting (Christine Binder) and sound (Richard Woodbury) as well as the wigs and make-up (Melissa Veal) are the finishing touches on a perfect production. Just a little less than two hours in total time. Two hours of pure heaven.
To get your piece of this heaven, understand that it will only remain on Navy Pier through January 17th with performances as follows:
|Wed, Dec 9:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Dec 10:||7:30pm|
|Fri, Dec 11:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Dec 12:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Dec 13:||2:00pm|
|Tue, Dec 15:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Dec 16:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Dec 17:||7:30pm|
|Fri, Dec 18:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Dec 19:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Dec 20:||2:00pm|
|Tue, Dec 22:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Dec 23:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Sat, Dec 26:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Dec 27:||2:00pm & 6:30pm|
|Tue, Dec 29:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Dec 30:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Dec 31:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Jan 2:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jan 3:||2:00pm & 6:30pm|
|Tue, Jan 5:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Jan 6:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Thu, Jan 7:||7:30pm|
|Fri, Jan 8:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Jan 9:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jan 10:||2:00pm|
|Tue, Jan 12:||7:30pm|
|Wed, Jan 13:||7:30pm|
|Thu, Jan 14:||1:00pm & 7:30pm|
|Fri, Jan 15:||7:30pm|
|Sat, Jan 16:||3:00pm & 8:00pm|
|Sun, Jan 17:||2:00pm|
Show Type: Comedy
Box Office: 312-595-5600
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Heir Apparent”
Discount parking at Navy Pier- bring your ticket to the theater for savings