Thursday September 21st 2017

“What of The Night” reviewed by Carol Moore

WhatOfTheNight Somewhat Recommended ** Watching “What of the Night?” was an extremely frustrating experience.  Instead of concentrating on the story, I was trying to find a way to actually see the performance.  Who knows, I might have had good things to say about the play if I could have seen the performers.  “What of the Night?” was long and depressing, with lots of fraught pauses and hand-wringing.  I give it 2 ½ Spotlights.

I don’t usually get this aggravated over a performance.  In fact, I always try to stay positive when I write a review.  In the case of this production, however, I just can’t.  In fact, I’m getting even more aggravated the more I write.

“What of the Night?” is staged in Theater Wit’s smallest theater, a long narrow space.  The set, such as it is, runs the length of the space, along one wall with seating on the opposite wall.  With only 3 rows of seats, you’d think everyone would have a good view.  You’d be wrong!   Much of the performance took place on the floor, literally at the feet of those in the first row, which made it impossible for those of us in the third row to see.

I’ve seen many plays staged in this same space, and I’ve never had this same experience.  I have to wonder if anyone bothered to check on the line of sight from the audience.  The acting is uneven, and the wording is convoluted and obscure.

When I read that Cor Theatre and Stage Left Theatre had teamed up for this production, and that Carlos Murillo would be directing, I was excited to see the production.  I’m not only disappointed with the production, I’m embarrassed that my guest had to sit through the same experience.

“What of the Night” is basically four plays (two per act) about a family struggling to survive.  Rape, incest and other adult themes prevail in all four truly depressing stories.  As we drove home, my friend Marlies said that she always gets emotionally involved when she sees a play.  In this one, however, she couldn’t empathize with anyone.  These are not people you can care about.night111-400x267

Nadine (Tosha Fowler) is a mother who has paid a price to protect her children, Charlie (Casey Morris) and Rainbow (Kathryn Acosta).  Pete (Miguel Nuñez), her sometime lover, abuses Charlie whenever he doesn’t scavenge/steal enough stuff.  At one point, she admits that she gave up another son, Ray, for adoption.  Although they are just teens, Charlie and Birdie (Dionne Addai) marry, but Birdie leaves to seek a better live.

In “Springtime”, Rainbow has moved into a long-term lesbian relationship with Greta (Allyce Torres) until Rainbow’s long-lost brother, Ray (Nelson Rodriguez) barges in.

In “Lust”, Ray is raped by his mentor, Joseph (Stephen Loch).  Although he’s not interested in women, Ray marries Joseph’s daughter, Helena (Kate Black-Spence).  Their marriage falls apart when Birdie enters the picture.

The final piece, the dystopian “Hunger” is set in the future.  Ray has fallen about as far as possible, losing everything.  He is obsessed with getting it all back while the others scramble to survive.  Although it might have represented some authoritarian future state, I thought this might be a metaphor for death.

“What of the Night?” runs through February 12th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago.

Running time is 2 hours, 55 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.

Performances are:

night113 Thursday  7:30 p.m.

Friday  7:30 p.m.

Saturday at 7:30 pm

Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Tickets range from $18-$30.  Valet parking is available.  FYI (773) 975-8150, www.cortheatre.org or www.stagelefttheatre.com

 

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “What of The Night”

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