Somewhat Recommended ** I am one that loves the smaller storefront theater scene that Chicago audiences hold dear. Profiles Theatre is one that brings us intense drama, no matter which of their stages or even , as they have in the past, on a leased stage elsewhere. Tonight, I was surprised by their latest production, the Midwest Premiere of “The Jacksonian” by Beth Henley. This is billed as a “new play” and perhaps, Ms Henley should look at it again and end it in a fashion that will bring closure to her audience. I say this because many of us leaving the theater were somewhat confused about the final scene ( or why it was even there) as the story appeared to be over before we viewed it.
Let me take you into the 90 minute play (with no intermission). The time is 1964 and we are at a motel, named The Jacksonian in Jackson Mississippi. Our story begins with some fog (which is used several times and people in the first rows found themselves somewhat upset by this feature) and our narrator Rosy (Juliana Liscio) who is telling us the story of her own life and the breakup of her parents. Her father, a respected dentists, Bill Perch(deftly handled by Tim Curtis)has been tossed from his luxurious home by his spouse,Susan (a strong performance by Rachel Sledd) who he has abused over the years, but he claims she has mental problems.
Residing in the seedy motel, where his daughter comes to visit him almost daily, he spends a great deal of time in the bar/restaurant with a gold-digging housekeeper, Eva (the very sexy Betsy Bowman) who is seeking a man, any man, who can change her lifestyle, At the start, it seems that it is the bartender Fred(a nice turn by Christian Isely), who as the story unfolds, we learn , is not who or what we think he is. In fact, all of the characters are different from what we start off thinking they are. There also was a local murder at a gas station. A Negro has been arrested and charged with the crime, but as we learn later in the play, he is not guilty. Some of the characters in this story are Klu Klux Klan members. While it takes awhile for this to come out, we do see their prejudices along the way.
Directed by Joe Jahraus on the stage at Profiles Main stage, the larger of the two theaters, on a unique set designed by Katie-Bell Springman, that is what one might call a multi-purpose set, there were some oft confusing moments as we went from restaurant to room, and upstairs balcony with an old ice machine. I will say that the set is very realistic. This is supposed to be a dark comedy, although there were not many comic moments. The characters were all people that it was easy to dislike and as I said earlier, I am not sure why this story had to be told. I did like the lighting (Michael Rathbun) and the original music/sound by Oliver Hickman. There were also some wonderful props, yet no one mentioned for assembling them. The play does show us a turbulent time in history along with a different type of “southern exposure” and while I did not like the play itself, I was impressed by the actors who deserve a better story.
Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.
Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 7 p.m.
This is open seating. Tickets are $35 on Thursdays, $40 all others
Students and seniors get $5 off . Tickets can be purchased or should I say reserved ( there is no printed ticket) by calling 773-549-1815 or online at www.profilestheatre.org
Parking is available at the lot at 4100 N. Clarendon (at Belle Plaine) for $14-$16 as well as on the street(some metered, some not) and of course public transportation is readily available.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Jacksonian”