Saturday August 19th 2017

“Uncle Philip’s Coat”

uncle-phillips-coatHighly Recommended ***** One of the highlights of the theater season in Chicago has been the Solo Celebration presented at The Greenhouse Theater Center. Some amazing one person shows, reaching out to all types of people. Twelve featured “celebrations” truly made for an exciting year. The current production is “Uncle Philip’s Coat” written by Matty Selman and finely directed by Elizabeth Margolius. The character that tells us this warm and loving story is an unemployed actor, named Matty, so here is where we put on our thinking caps and wonder” is the playwright telling us his story?” I think yes! Matty, is played to perfection by Chicago favorite Gene Weygandt, who  might probably be the most Jewish White Anglo -Saxon Protestant I have ever met. As we are in the most intimate space of the Greenhouse complex (the small studio at street level where we truly get the feeling that he is telling us the story ,one-on-one.

The story starts off being about his late Uncle’s coat, a special coat that this salesman wore as he peddled sundry items along the boardwalk at Coney Island. The man had very little and as it turns out, what appeared to be not much of a life. He sold bras that were hung from hooks on this special coat that Matty was sure was as old as the hills, and in his coat pockets were sweets and trinkets to peddle to those not in need of the newest of bras on the market. Not knowing much about his uncle, and being left what he thought might be the most valuable item that he had possessed, Matty decided to learn more about the coat and along the way, about the uncle that he had sparse contact with.

As Weygandt leads us on this journey, conveying Matty, his father and of course Uncle Philp himself, he uncovers the secrets of the dreams of those who came to this country, landing at Ellis Island, fleeing the pogroms of Russia. Matty learns more about his family and who they were; the relationships between those before him as well as his father and uncle. Having something that belonged to someone with a history can be a very important part of life. I, myself, own several jackets that were left to me by relatives and in one case, almost a relative. My father-in-law, who I only knew of, had a favorite leather jacket. I wear it at family functions and both his daughters and son feel as if Jack is there and we talk about some of his life (allowing me to learn more about him). My son-in-law’s father passed away and I have two of his favorite jackets. Again, wearing them at family functions makes Mike feel that “dad ” is still with him and that his grandkids are being watched over. These are not things that are shared by all, but, I for one, had strong feelings as Matty sought out the details on his Uncle’s coat. uncle5

Was it truly an item that should be cared for, adored and even put into a museum, as Matty had hoped? Or was it something that should be discarded to erase the memory of Philips “nothingness” as Matty’s father said. How we react to things such as this can be unique and very different. Weygandt’s interpretation under the sharp direction of Margolius hit the nail on the head. I loved it! And guess what- you do not have to be Jewish to appreciate this warm story that takes a man through his family history in a unique and sometimes painful way, but in the long run, shows how love can be shown in many ways. This is a MUST SEE!

“Uncle Philip’s Coat” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center through December 31st with performances as follows:

uncle2Wednesdays  8 p.m.

Thursdays  8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  2:30 and 8 p.m.

Sundays  2:30 p.m.

NO PERFORMANCE on either Chanukah/Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve (there will be the afternoon performance) and on Christmas Day a 2:30 performance

Running time is 70 minutes- 70 wonderful minutes!

Tickets range from $34- $48 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 773-404-7336 or online at http://www.greenhousetheatre.org

The Greenhouse is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue solo

NOTE: I attended THREE plays in this building today, enjoying a very special day indeed. The Greenhouse is a perfect place to spend a day.

To see what others are saying about “Uncle Philip’s Coat”, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Uncle Philip’s Coat”.

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