Highly Recommended **** Anyone familiar with the work of Timeline Theatre Company, now celebrating 20 years of marvelous theater, knows that their stories are inspired by history and somehow linked to our world today ( both on a social and political level). They are currently presenting the United States Premiere of Kate Hennig’s “The Last Wife”, that is the story of the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, Katherine Parr (divinely brought to life by AnJi White). The king is played to perfection by Steve Pickering, and when I say, perfection, I mean with a capital P- he is dynamite in this powerful cat and mouse game between a man and a “lowly woman”. As we watch the story unfold, we learn that Katherine is indeed smarter than her king, but since the world doesn’t accept a woman as a leader, his word prevails. Or does it?
Director Nick Bowling takes us on a trip through history and the chess game between the Queen and King. Katherine, at the very onset of the play, shows us her true colors. She is having an affair withThom (deftly handled by Nate Santana), one of the King’s “knights”, who he ships to battle when Henry decides that Katherine will be his. Of course, with Henry, Katherine also gets three of his children, Mary (Paola Sanchez Abreu), Bess (the lovely Caroline Hefferman and on alternate performances Peyton Shaffer) and son, Eddie, heir to the throne (Chiinguun Sergelen is as cute as button and his alternate player is Matthew Abraham). She has also decided that unlike the previous wives of Henry, she will “not lose her head”, and show him that a woman can be important to a country and its government.
Not wanting to divulge more than needed to convey the story, I will tell you that there is a great deal of power struggle between the King and his new Queen. There is also a great deal of planning, plotting and strategy as Katherine maneuvers her way into taking on more power than a woman has ever had. This is a tale that took place 500 years ago, yet under the divisive storytelling of Hennig’s script and the clever direction of Bowling, we find ourselves watching what could easily be something taking place right now. Regina Garcia has designed a set that allows us to be in different parts of the kingdom, although most of the action takes place in the King’s “boardroom” and the Queen’s bedroom. Yes, this story deals with sex as well as politics and of greatest importance, women’s rights!
The technical aspects of the production are well done, making the story-telling easier. Melissa Torchia’s costumes are cleverly modern, while at the same time allowing us to step back into another time. Mike Durst’s lighting works to perfection and the original music and sound by Victoria Deiorio is divine. Vivian Knouse adds the finishing touches with her props, an amazing array of items including a served meal right before intermission that looked good enough to eat!This is a powerful show that women will enjoy as it shows that a woman can take some control ( even back then). As always, the lobby is filled with information about the characters and the events that are depicted in the story. That is Timeline’s tradition. They also have special events that go with the production schedule. Visit www.timelinetheatre.com/the-last-wife.
“The Last Wife” will continue at Timeline Theatre located at 615 West Wellington thru December 18th with performances as follows:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m
Saturdays 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $38- $51 (open seating) and can be ordered by calling 773-281-8463 or online at www.timelinetheatre.com
Parking around Broadway and Wellington can be difficult, so it is suggested to use the discounted parking at either Broadway Center, 2846 N. Broadway ($8 with validation) or Century Mall (2836 N. Clark at $9 with validation). In both cases make sure you bring your parking ticket to the theater to have it validated.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Last Wife”