Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, back in 1996 entered the Chicago theater scene with its first production, “Wrens” written by Anne McGravie, and now in their new space, for their 17th season, they have brought this production back to life. I for one, want to thank you for bringing this marvelous production back to the theater audiences of Chicago. Rivendell’s commitment is to nurturing women artists and developing works about the female experience and while 17 years have past since their inception, the need is still here, and once again, they have given us a strong production that “nails it”! “Wrens” is a semi-autobiographical peek into McGravie’s own life experience during World War II as a member of the Wrens (Women’s Royal Navy Servicewomen) and deals with one group of women, from various backgrounds who share a bunker hut during the final days of the war.
This is a story of loyalty, morality,friendship and duty that begins on the eve of VE day ( the end of the war and the finish of their service).Directed by Karen Kessler on a wonderful set( Joanna Iwanicka, who also assembled some great props), this is a slick production with a solid cast of performers, each actress bringing something special to the characters penned by McGravie.Rebecca Spence is Jenny, the sort of leader of the Barrack, a kind of know-it-all who may be above the others when it comes to her social circle. Gwyneth ( deftly handled by Mary Cross) is almost her equal in power over the others and Doris( Meg Warner) appears to represent the playwright herself. There is a very young girl, who has left the convent to join in the battle, Meg ( Amanda Powell) who is upset the war is about to end and another younger girl,Dawn, who becomes the reason for the loyalty issue during this story. Cynthia ( a powerful Jodi Kingsley who is the wants to play- by- the- rules member of this group and Chelsea ( the mysterious Katrina Kluntz) who is sort of the “outsider” of the pack. Each lady has a story and during this two act, two plus hours, we get inside all of their heads as we learn details of their lives- well written, well directed and well acted. What more could an audience ask for?
The technical part of this production is the icing on the cake.Amy Gabbert’s costumes, Diane D. Fairchild’s lights, Kate Hopgood’s sound complete the package. Please note that this entire production is one where females rule and even though they have a few men around to assist, Rivendell continues to do what it set out to do some 17 years ago. For this, they are to be congratulated – being able to find the scripts and stories that fit their needs and then assembling the right and talented people to complete the task. This is a charming and witty story with some very funny moments, but with a deep message- one that can be enjoyed by all theater audiences and should be.
“Wrens” will continue at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble located at 5779 N. Ridge Avenue through Octobr 13th with performances as follows:
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Tickets are only $30 and can be purchased by calling 773-334-7728 or visiting www.RivendellTheatre.org
Student and senior discounts are available and for those of you unfamiliar with the area, there is some street parking, but free parking is available at the Senn High School parking lot( behind the school off of Thorndale). CTA is also a great way to get to this lovely and intimate space.