Dunsinane

The Royal Shakespeare Company is on stage at Chicago Shakes in the long awaited epic sequel of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Dunsinane takes over and tells the story if Lady Macbeth was still alive and Siward was settling the affairs of Scotland in the name of the English Monarch.
I haven’t seen a production on the Chicago Shakespeare stage that hasn’t been fully produced by them. I was a little apprehensive that it would not live up to their high standards. There was no need to worry. This production lives up to and exceeds some aspects of Chicago Shake’s productions.
Most impressive is Tom Gill playing the Boy Soldier. He has a great naivety that produces great wisdom. Other standouts includes the queens maids whose vocals were spot on along with live three piece band.
Overall I would recommend this show to anyone who likes Macbeth and enjoys what if scenarios.
[button link=”http://plays.patrickstinson.com/category/aminus/”]Grade: A-[/button]

First Wives Club

On the way to the matinee we stopped in Plainfield to eat lunch at Larry’s. I ordered the special of stuffed green peppers and it was horrible. I have never sent anything back but I did this time. The sauce which should be like a tomatoish sauce looked like sweet and sour sauce and jello mixed and tasted half as good as that sounds. Needless to say I walked into the show needing to be uplifted.
The show starts with someone killing them self. This is done with a flashback to show how life was at the end of college for the leads and the deceased of the show. IT IS DEPRESSING. But what is most depressing about it is the pace. It is such a slow start. How I would fix it: Don’t make it a flashback. Make the exposition active. Stop talking about doing and do. No matter how cool the suicide scene transition is cut the scene of the suicidestress reminiscing and jump straight to the funeral.
Once the now 40 something (I love Faith Prince, but she is not a 40 something) college friends are together they sit in chairs in the middle of an apartment scene for a long time. A whole song just sitting there and the song was boring. I hope it is a section they are reworking because at this point it is all exposition that is super repetitive and again needs action. All the performers are working their butts off to pull it off but the material is holding them down throughout the entire show.
I could give a play by play of the show but really it needs a lot of rewrites. The songs are poorly done and do not forward the action and it talks a lot about feelings but any one who has knows anything about writing knows you need to have action to keep the audience involved.
One last thing about the structure of the show… The end of the first act a plan is hatched and you know what they are going to do. No need to come back for act two. You need to end the act with a problem or a cliffhanger.
The choreography is stagnant. You rarely know that you are in a musical. During one section I saw the running man, the hammer dance, and the sprinkler. Come on….this is a Broadway bound production. Where’s the innovation? I could choreograph what was on stage on my way to the first rehearsal. (Which is what I do when I’m choreographing for middle school.)
I wish this production luck because I know some people involved but I don’t think it will do well. I am always available for consulting.
[button link=”http://plays.patrickstinson.com/category/d/”]Grade: D[/button]

Pericles

The set is beautiful wood grain with the sense of flowing sand. There is a huge entrance upstage center along with large jungle looking platforms extreme stage right and stage left. As always before a Chicago Shakes show I am excited and nervous about being able to comprehend the language but I know with this quality of show it will be very well done.
For a Friday night I am surprised that it is not sold out.
The show started out slowly with costumes that seemed more cartoonish than Shakespearean. One character reminded me of Jafar from Aladdin. But I learned that it was supposed to make me uncomfortable because it ended up being a character that I shouldn’t like along with his kingdom.
The story is based around the king of Tyre’s travels. He is shown to be good man that helps neighboring nations. He is ship wrecked and proven to be a gentleman in another kings court. He wins the hand of the princess and they are blessed with a daughter during their sea travel back to Tyre. The new queen dies or so we are meant to think and her body is sealed in casket and sent overboard. The king decides the baby will not last the journey names her Marina and leaves her with another kingdom. The queen of the new kingdom becomes jealous of her and has her henchman kill her. He tries and is unable when pirates kidnap her and sell her to a whore house. Pericles is told she is dead. He goes into great despair. Marina refuses to give away her virtue and when men pay to lay with her they end up repenting and turning a new leaf including the governor of this land. Marina is sent to help those who lives are downtrodden when she is led to her father. They reveal to each who they are. Pericles grants the governor his daughter’s hand and they go to the temple of Diana to be wed. There they find Thalia Pericles’ thought to be dead wife. The end.
Two and a half hours of great storytelling. Many actors played multiple roles and all were great. Above all the music in the show was well written and had a very nautical sound. If I would change anything it would be the projections. At times they were distracting. A lot of them were for the sake of doing it and didn’t add to the action, but many of them were very useful.

[button link=”http://plays.patrickstinson.com/category/aminus/”]Grade: A-[/button]