Highly Recommended**** For those of you, unfamiliar with the Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, there are two outstanding venues in this small North Shore community. There is the “main stage” on Tudor Street and then, the most intimate of spaces, located in the rear of The Books On Vernon shop. Yes, a true “storefront” theater, that in reality is a storeback theater. A small space where depite how the configure it, less than 60 seats are available for an audience, but what they do in this little space is BIG productions. Not big in size of course, but “big” in the stories they tell and the production value as a whole.
“Yellow Moon” is a narrative of the highest quality when it comes to telling a story. Written by David Greig, this is a four person play, one that has as its man focus two young people, Silent Leila ( a masterful performance by Ashleigh LaThrop and Lee ( deftly handled by Josh Salt), who meet by chance and who discover that they are not as alone in life as they had thought they were. The story takes place in Scotland, and so the actors use a brogue ( luckily, they are not as thick as true Scots would be, making the strong dialogue easily understandable. These are “lost” teens, each with their own set of problems- Leila, a cutter ( one who cuts their skin with razor blades in order to feel themselves come to life, and Lee is an upset young man, who is always in trouble, or at least since his father left his mother and him. Lee’s mother takes on a boyfriend who Lee ends up killing and so he takes to the highlands in hopes of finding refuge at his father’s estate ( a picture of which he has in his mind- a better life awaits him).
The story is told through two narrators, Chicago favorite John Lister and the glorious Karen Janes Woditsch, both taking on the roles of the other characters in the story as the 80 minute ( no intermission) progresses. Smoothly directed by Stuart Carden on a bare stage, except for four chairs that are moved about by the actors, this is a story that needs to be watched and listened to. There is no glitz, no special lighting ( Lee Fiskness creates the right moods) and very little in the way of props or costuming. The original music by Christopher Kriz does add to the overall production.
Again, it is the story that is of importance to making this a true theatrical experience. Lee, after killing his mother’s boyfriend and deciding to live a life of crime takes on Leila to make the trip to find his father and a place to hide. As they head to the hills they come on to an estate and a worker who helps them find a place to sleep and feeds them. As they spend time together, these two “loners” become dependent on each other as Frank watches over them. During this period, Leila, who reads all the gossip magazines each week sees that one of her favorites is living in the estate ( ms Woditsch takes on this role of Holly) who befriends her. As it turns out, Lee does learn that Frank, the caretaker of the estate is not who he seems to be and since I do not want to give away the unexpected ending, I will leave it at that for you. Things do take place and these young people do sort of declare their new found love.
This is a solid drama with some twists and turns, told in a true storytelling style with the two narrators popping in as main characters throughout and at no time do any of the four actors leave the stage area. By the way, the small seating area, in some scenes is a part of the stage area, so you must keep your legs in and pay attention. We, the audience can feel the tension as we watch these young people bring the story to its conclusion, one that may bring a little gasp or a lump in your throat. This is a solid production that will certainly take you away from the stress of your day, allowing you to immerse yourself into a story of self discovery as well discovery of the “soul-mate” that we are all supposed to have in our lives.
“Yellow Moon” will continue in the intimate Books on Vernon located at 664 Vernon Avenue , in Glencoe through August 4th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
There are also Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. on
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $35- $60 and can be purchased at the box office, just down the street at 376 Park Avenue, by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org
For those unfamiliar with the area, Vernon is one block west of Green Bay Rd and 4 blocks south of Dundee Road ( rte 68) and there is loads of FREE parking, plus you are just two short blocks from the Metra station.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at “Yellow Moon”
There are discount tickets available on Twitter ( Twitter.com/WritersTheatre by 3 p.m. same day and then must be purchased on the website). This is an open seating program, but there are no bad seats ( after all, there are under 50 in total)
There are also some audience enrichment programs- post show discussions on most Wednesday evening performances