Highly Recommended ***** Taking on a Tom Stoppard play is always a challenge to any theater company. But there is one company that not only accepts the challenge, they have excelled at presenting his “Travesties”, a romp through his love of language that allows us to watch James Joyce (James Houton is a stitch), Vladimir Lenin (Keith Neagle, who never smiles), Tristan Tzara (deftly handled by Greg Matthew Anderson) and Henry Carr (an amazing performance by Jeff Cummings) who is our story-teller, relating to us, his new friends, the epic tales of their lives and loves.
Under the skillful eye of director Nick Sandys, who truly understands the amazing way that Stoppard weaves his story into poetry, limericks, and theater, on a cleverly designed set (Joe Schermoly), one scarcely realizes that this production (with one intermission) is close to three hours in length. In fact, most of the audience could not care less as they laughed the evening away watching the events of the evening as our “hero”, Henry Carr takes us on a journey to discover meaning and purpose in life. Are we not all entitled to our “15 minutes of fame”? That is a question that comes into play as well.
This is a high energy production with a cast that is up to the task. One would have to classify this piece as a true “ensemble piece” and it shows just how strong Remy Bumppo is in this classification of theater companies. They are strong actors, who are able to bring what is needed to the stage as one unit, together for the good of the entire production- that is what “ensemble” is all about, and they handle this to perfection.
The others in this brilliant, “must see” production are Scott Olson (an incredible Bennett), Jodi Kingsley (Nadya), Meg Warner (an adorable Cecily, the librarian) and Kelsey Brennan (Gwendolen). Ms Brennan and Warner have a scene that will have you rhyming in laughter. Each and every one of these actors brings a special something to the characters they are playing and allows the story to gel. Stoppard has a gem of a comedy, where even if you had never heard of the names and people (all real of course), you will “get” the tale. It is suggested that you have a small understanding of the works of Oscar Wilde, in particular “The Importance of Being Earnest”. That would help, but the young lady sitting next to me, didn’t and still had a blast.
The technical aspects of this show fit my earlier statement about “ensemble piece” as well. Each part of it works to make this the theatrical experience that it is. Rachel Lambert’s costumes, Andrew Meyers’ lighting, Victoria Deiorio’s sound, Jesse Gaffney’s props and stage manager Mara Filler who keeps the pace on tight pace. If you have a bad day, I suggest the perfect remedy, an evening at The Greenhouse Theater Center watching “Travesties”, which will continue through May 3rd with performances as follows:
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 2:30 p.m.
There will be Wednesday performances on April 8th and 29th at 7:30 p.m.
Extra Matinees at 2:30 p.m. on April 16th and 25th
Tickets range from $42.50 – $52.50
“Between the Lines” $57.50 *
Tickets can be purchased at the box office located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, by phone at 773-404-7336 or online at www.RemyBumppo.org
Student tickets are $15, subject to availability
* Between The Lines, Sunday ,April 12th includes pre-show lecture
Parking is available down the street at the old Children’s garage and of course on the street, some metered, some not.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Travesties”