A Red Orchid has been a part of the Chicago theater scene since the early 1990’s and in their very intimate spot in the heart of Old Town, we have been witness to many wonderful productions. In fact, A Red Orchid has developed quite a following in the community and is composed of a membership of quality writers, actors and directors as well as creative people, all with one goal; to bring quality theater at affordable prices to our community. As a complete theater ensemble, they also have training programs for young aspiring talent, so it is nice to see, from time to time, a play designed for young people to perform and witness as well. They are presently doing an young people’s interpretation of ” The Iliad” adapted by Craig Wright from Robert Fagles’ and Ian Strachan’s translations. What is truly noteworthy about this production is that the entire cast is female, playing the men and all female parts are played by “Barbie” dolls.
This roughly 65 minutes of Greek Tragedy ( the actual battles took over 9 years) is a playful spin on The Trojan War. The pieces remain the same, Huge Male Egos, Vengeance, loyalty, honor, but the handling is a bit more youth orientated. We see from the “male attitudes” of our warrors that women and children are less importance than the victory of a battle. These young actresses, who would never get an opportunity such as this if it were not for A Red Orchid ,will have a great learning experience about not just performing, but mythology and of course history.There is some great swordplay and fighting making this quite the experience for actor and audience.
Director Steve Wilson, uses the very small stage at A Red Orchid, as best he can with 13 performers in a small space and with fighting sequences to boot. Sarah Fornace’s fight movements work, although, there were a few close calls for those in the first row. The cast made up of girls aged 8-15 were all sizes and I would imagine backgrounds. It was obvious that some of them had done more stage work than others, but they all kept their characters and held the storyline together. Jaiden Fallo-Sauter was a powerhouse as Achilles, Elenna Sindler ( Petroclus), Aria Szalai-Raymond ( a powerful Hector), The petite Nicole Rudakova ( as the powerful Paris), Najwa Brown ( Agammemnon), Katie Jordan, Paola Lehman, Marissa Meo, Isabella Mugliari,Melanie Neilan,Madison Pullman, Nicole Rudakova, Kara Ryan and the adorable Eden Strong ( an 8 year old charmer). These kids are from Cal City,Northbrook,Nortfiled, Des Plaines and many of Chicago’s diversified neighborhoods. That’s what makes this presentation so special.
There are many who would feel that these shows are put on so that these kids can sell tickets to their friends and families. Granted, that may be true, but it also allows us , the theater audiences of Chicago to see some new ideas and new talent. Some of these young ladies might just choose a life of theater and then we will be able to say, remember when they did that Greek thing on Wells. “The Iliad” will continue at A Red Orchid located at 1531 N. Wells Street through December 19th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $25-$30 ( half price for students/under 17) and can be purchased by calling the box office at 312-943-8722 or online at www.aredorchidtheatre.org