Friday June 23rd 2017

The Real Inspector Hound

There is something special about a theater company putting on a true “farce” and Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” is indeed a true “farce”. Signal Ensemble Theatre, in opening it’s new space, located on Bernice and Ravenswood in the heart of the North Center neighborhood, has chosen this 75 minute “laugher” to begin its eighth season. The space appears to be an old factory or wharehouse and has been designed for audience comfort as well as great sight lines. The 55 seat theater has plenty of leg room and fairly comfortable seats- a great addition to the Chicago scene and a welcome addition to the north side.

The story is about two theater critics, Moon ( Philip Winston) and Birdboot ( the always reliable Jon Steinhagen, a true comic actor) who are in their box at the theater. Moon is the back-up critic for his paper and moans about always being second fiddle and Birdboot talks about his glory and his love life as the play begins. The play is a brand new murder mystery and as the story progresses, they find themselves becoming part of the “play within a play” and the laughs get stronger. This is a pure melodrama with some very strange twists. Directed by Ronan Marra on a wonderful set designed by Melania Lancy, the cast keeps the flow of this show constant. Mary O’Dowd ( who also handles the unique and special props) plays the maid to perfection. John Blick plays the cad, Simon with just the right touch for a light and frothy “English style farce”. Simon’s amours, Felicity ( the lovelyKate Genualdi) and Cynthia ( the very sexy Meredith Bell Alvarez) are delights and Magnus, who turns out to be someone other than he appears to be is played with a great comic touch by Colby Sellers.  Joseph Stearns handles the role of Inspector Hound ( or is he?) with a fine tuned comic touch and Charles Schoenherr handles both the dead body and the radio announcer to round out the cast.

This play, which was written in 1968 is both satire and inane comedy and a delight to watch. Signal, in its new home has selected a play to start their “Season of Comedy” that will have you laughing from start to finish. This being “press night”, many of us has our own little laughs at the dialogue between the two critics and the delightful little touches that Marra put in. I truly felt that this cas had as much fun doing the show as I had watching it come to life. The new Signal Theatre is located at 1802 West Bernice ( a one way street going West off of Ravenswood , but east of the tracks) You will hear the trains every so often, but the show is tight enough an dthe actors strong enough that you will not be bothered by them. There is plenty of street parking and public transportation makes it easy to get there.

“Hound” will run through September 18th with performances Thursday,Friday and saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.  Tickets  are $2o ( Labor Day week-end two-for-one) and can be purchased by calling 773-347-1350 or online at or

Students and seniors enjoy a $5 discount. What a great value for “live theater” of this quality!

to see what the rest of the season looks like, visit

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