Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre is probably the smallest venue in the city for watching live theater. They have won awards, year after year after year and for the most part, what they do best is musicals. In fact, they are known for taking BIG productions and putting them into this storefront theater with a very small cast and yet, with quality that is of the highest level. In the last two seasons, they have gone to other than the musical doing “The Taming of the Shrew” last year and now, a comedy in verse,”The Lady’s Not For Burning” by Christopher Fry. This charming story about a soldier( deftly handled by Layne Manzer), who is unhappy with his “lot” in life comes to the court and asks to be hanged. His reasons, or so he says, is that he has killed people and deserves to be hanged. In this frenzied court, under the leadership of its Mayor, Hebble Tyson ( the funny J. Preddie Predmore) awaiting the festivities of his nephews’ wedding, there is also an alleged witch who must be burned at the stake ( played to perfection by Jenny Lamb). As it turns out, not only the soldier finds himself in love with her but the future groom, Humphrey ( a delightful Eric Martin) and his younger brother Nicholas (David Weiss) do as well.Their mother , Margaret (the lovely Susan Fey), sister to the Mayor cannot understand her boys at all, but feels that the Wedding of Humphrey to Alizon ( adorably played by Sonja Field) will change the course of their lives.
Meanwhile, the “council” has decided at the Witch must be burned and that the soldier must live, yet it is the witch that desires life and the soldier death, but once the soldier meets the witch, he decides he must help her get out and spend her days with him. Meanwhile the Mayor’s aide, Richard ( Ada Kander) finds himself falling in love with Alizon, the Chaplain ( a comical character played skillfully by Drew Longo, who also does a great bit part in the third act as Skipps, the man allegedly killed by the soldier) who loves his musical instrument and would have preferred to be a musician over a member of the cloth and the Justice, Tappercoom ( Andrew J. Pond, who has just the right comic touch to pull off this character) just want to get things back to the way they were before the arrivals of the soldier and the witch.
This spoken “operetta” , as Fry called it, is an unusual little show, but under the careful eye of Anzevino who has assembled a quality cast, is a lot of fun ad a great diversion from some of the everyday things life brings us. Yet, it has a message or two contained in this fun 2 1/2 hours at The No Exit Cafe on Glenwood. It speaks to the human condition in wanting something that you can’t have, questioning what is life? What is death? What is class? Is it what you have or who you are? In watching this sterling production sitting in chairs that are of little comfort ( and padding) in very close quarters, where the actors ( who are also the wait-staff) move between the tables, I realized that the very being of The No Exit Cafe and Theoubique is that they can give us the quality of a large theater in a small space at an affordable price and are unique in what they do. I am sure that this troupe would love to have a larger venue and be able to do bigger productions, but the choice they made in being where they are and doing what they do was in fact the wise one with the exception of perhaps the chairs. Perhaps someone out there in the restaurant supply business, needs a write-off and would donate some tables and chairs- Chicago theater audiences who attend these shows would love you.
“The Ldy’s Not For Burning” will continue at The No Exit Cafe located at 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue ( right by Morse Avenue Red Line station) through October 31st – performance schedule:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m. ,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Dinner is optional- 1 1/2 hours prior to curtain.
Tickets are a mere $25 and with dinner $45
to reserve your spot call 1-800-595-4849 or visit www.theoubique.org
There is free parking at the lot on the corner of Morse and Ravenswood and the Lifeline shuttle will transport you to and from the theater.