Over the years, I have been impressed by City Lit and their productions. In particular, those where the do their own adaptation, but in their current production “The Sign Of The Four”, adapted and directed by Terry McCabe, they missed the target. This is an adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes mystery ( Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and while they have a strong cast ( Don Bender underplays Holmes to a “T” and Jerry Bloom truly has Dr. Watson). The set is a multi-task one and for those of you who have never been to City Lit, you are upstairs in a church in some of the most uncomfortable seats in any Chicago Theater. The set ( James Ogden) has a riser that represents the sitting room of Holmes house and there were several times where instead of exiting through the door, the actors chose to take the step leading to another location entirely. There appeared to be some lighting snafus, but the actors were strong enough to overcome these ( and I am sure they are just temporary as Devin Carroll has shown quality work in the past).
The story is a mystery as all Holmes stories are as he investigates a murder by poison ( a stick that has pierced the vein filled with poison) and he has been called in to save the day.Holmes is an egomaniac who is sure that what he sees is correct and his deductions are correct as well. While he relies on Watson as his right hand man, who also tells us the entire tale. This is a two hour production with a 15 minute intermission and I found it a bit to “talky”. We had a very small audience for a Friday night making it a bit harder for the audience to react, which makes it easier for the actors to lose concentration. They didn’t! McCabe might want to do a little chopping and get right to the meat of the story, that Holmes is a drug addict, an egomaniac, a woman hater and a musician, but of most importance, he solves crimes.
My hat is off to this valiant cast: Linsy Falls,David Fink, Nick Goodman,Greg Kolack, Drew Longo ( who does a great Mordecai Smith, but they could have trimmed the beard just a bit),Brian Pastor, Ed Rutherford,Andrew Shapiro, Judy Les Steele and the lovely Shawna Tucker as Mary Morstanwho comes to Holmes at the start and ends up withWatson in the end.They all did well with their accents, characters and stage presence- the only ingredient lacking the power to keep an audience on their toes was the script.
“Sign” will continue at City Lit located at The Edgewater Presbyterian Church at 1020 West Bryn Mawr( second floor) through July 3rd with performances as follows:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will be two Thursday performances June 23rd and 30th at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $25 which is a value for live theater and can be purchased by calling 773-293-3682 or online at www.citylit.org
City Lit is easy to get to by public transportation and there are some wonderful dining spots in walking distance ( who offer parking services) ask when you call for your tickets.