Friday June 23rd 2017

” The Madness of George III”

Highly Recommended When one thinks of Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, one tends to think classical works ( unless it is the summer family program) or works that come from Europe, but there are times when one can find modern work that takes a bit of a shot at the works of Shakespeare and their current production, “The Madness of George III” is the perfect example. Written by Alan Bennett, this is a story based on a real King, one who was in power during the time of the founding of America as well as other territories and who started to fade in health due to an unknown disease that was taken as madness. All the doctors who had their own ways of handling trying to find the cure failed until an ex-clergyman who had turned to healing through the mind took over and is appeared his methods did the trick. Only later was it found that it was a disease that caused his mental anguish and he later died of said disease. Bennett takes shots at  families, relationships, the medical profession and politics ( including budgets and finance) Many of the lines spoken in this comedic look at the royal life could be very fitting in today’s society as well as the period when written and the period that is that of the subject.

As is the case in productions at Chicago Shakespeare, they bring in some of   Chicago’s finest ( those actors with a great understanding of Shakespeare) The Title character is one that takes great energy and a great number of lines to handle with several personality types, as he has his ups and downs- Harry Groener, making his first appearance on the CST stage nailsi t, from his first appearance on the stage to the very end! He handles each mood swing with the right touch and one would have to call him a master of his character interpretation, filled with great energy and skilled acting talent. Seeing him develop George III for the 2 hours and 45 minutes of this production is a treat for an audience and worth the price of the ticket.      

But there are more: Patrick Clear,William Dick,Bradley Armacost,Kevin Gudhal,Erik Hellman,Nathan Hosner,Ora Jones,James Newcomb and Steven Pringle, all who have graced the CST sage in previous productions all make this a delight to watch.Newcomer Alex Weisman ( who is no stranger to Chicago stages proves that it is not the number of lines an actor has, but how they appear on the stage and under director Penny Metropulos careful hand, he steals many scenes with his character and yet never takes away from the story. The rest of the ensemble, Brian Rooney,Jonathan Hicks,Mark D. Hines,Terry Hanson,Rob Glidden, Patrice Egleston,Kevin Cox,Jeff Cummings, Richard Baird ( a real charmer as the Prince of Wales) and Danielle Brothers, as well as Mike Sims,Curtis Stelter and Nathan Wonder Z( who are involved as set changers and servants) all make this production the solid piece of work that it is and I am sure the Jeff Committee will have some wonderful things to say about this one!

The times of King George III were turbulent and Bennett’s handling of many of the situations is clearly stated so that we can imagine how political tricks are not new- they have been around for centuries. Political favors, healthcare issues, finance, budgets and many of the situations we see in 2011 were in evidence in 1994 when this play was first produced as well as back in the days of yore. There is also a wonderful bit about the brilliance of Shakespeare’s writing as George, during his rehab falls in love with"King Lear" and has his doctors and soldiers read with him. A very funny bit and handled to perfection as is this entire flawless production at CST. From the set (William Bloodgood), the costumes ( Susan E. Mickey), the lighting ( Diane Ferry Williams) Wigs ( a great number of them by Melissa Veal) sound (Michael Bodeen and Rob Milburn) and the fight director/choreographer (James Newcomb) this is a performance that is pure delight!

“” Madness will continue at CST located at 800 East Grand Avenue ( on Navy Pier) through June 12th . Tickets range from $44-$75 and can be purchased by calling 312-595-5600 or online at www.chicagoshakes.com/madness where you can also check the performance schedule.

Parking is available at a discount by bringing your stub to the theater for validation.

Special features:

Saturdays at 2 p.m. , Sundays at 1 p.m. ( May only) and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. May 13th and 20th and June 3rd and on Sunday June 5th

Wednesday matinees will feature a talk back after the performancescholars will lecture for 30 minutes leadng up to show time

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