WINDY CITY TIMES
||THEATER REVIEW L'Imbecile
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 5016 times since Wed Apr 23, 2014
Playwright: Aaron Adair
At: Babes With Blades Theatre
Company at Rivendell Theatre,
5779 N. Ridge Ave.
Runs through: May 10
You're unlikely to have heard of Victor Hugo's Le Roi S'Amuseit was closed by the Paris censors the day after its premiere in 1832 and banned from production for the next 30 years. It resurfacedwith a few slight alterationsin 1851 as Guiseppe Verdi's opera, Rigoletto, with which it is associated to the present day. Aaron Adair's adaptation hearkens to the original shocker, now located in a safely distant post-apocalyptic future.
Society in 2022, it turns out, is structured much like a cross-gender version of medieval Europe. The kingdom under scrutiny is ruled by a libertine queen, whose rise to power was founded in the defeat of her enemy, the puritanical Priestess. The war having rendered most of the male populace impotent, a street trade in Viagra-analog elixirs flourishes, while the monarch enjoys her pick of what virile specimensmale and femaleher henchbuddies procure for her pleasure. Chief among the court sidekicks is the Fool, whose cruel taunting of families protesting the sex-trafficking of their children is repaid in kind when her beloved son falls prey to the royal appetite, triggering a cycle of terrible revenge.
The Babes With Blades company has opted to stage the classic tragedy according to the precepts developed in the 1990s by the legendary New Crimes ensemble and dubbed "neo-commedia." This approach combines elements of traditional Roman comedy with the ritual formality of Peking opera to generate spectacle resembling a grotesque clown show, replete with acrobatic slapstick punctuated by a rough-and-ready score of incidental noise produced on drums, cowbell, kazoo, slide-whistle and other exotic instruments.
This decision is not without risk. The mannered performances engendered by the conventions of this undeniably archaic acting style could quickly alienate audiences unaccustomed to its measured pace and formal delivery. Fortunately, the cast assembled by veteran Chicago director William Bullion arrives well equipped with the physical stamina for the jocular violence characteristic of the genre, as well as the unwavering commitment to keep us invested in the story's progress, despite a text incorporating slam poetry, pop-musical interludes and moments of water-treading lazzi. For sheer visual splendor, however, Stefanie Johnson's collage-based costumes and Kelsey Shipley's low-tech fantasy-gewgaws generate enchantment to dazzle the most sartorophiles. Look for replicas of Maureen Yasko's wickedly charming Regina-with-a-you-know-what enthroned on floats during Pride week.
This article shared 5016 times since Wed Apr 23, 2014
| ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE|
|SHOWBIZ 'Joy Ride,' Cynthia Erivo, David Bowie, March Madness, Kevin Bacon 2023-03-25|
Video below - The first trailer for the upcoming comedy Joy Ride has been released, Out noted. The movie stars Ashley Park, queer Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), bisexual comedian Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) and ...
|Kokandy Productions announces 2023 Season 2023-03-22|
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 22, 2023) — Kokandy Productions is thrilled to announce its 2023 season, including two fully produced musicals, plus plans for the return of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. This summer, Kokandy will dive into ...
|Opera Preview: Life of gay World War II hero Alan Turing transformed into a world-premiere opera 2023-03-17|
- It has taken a decade for The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing to grow from an idea into a full- fledged opera. Chicago Opera Theater stages the world premiere of composer Justine F. Chen and ...
|Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project to present dance concert 'Sans Pareil' 2023-03-14|
--From a press release - Deeply Rooted Dance Theater joins the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project again to take the stage in a dance concert entitled Sans Pareil—French for "unparalleled," a nod to the Haitian lineage of Chicago's founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe ...
|House Musical, Coming of Age in the Age of House, coming to Hoover-Leppen Theatre 2023-03-14|
--From a press release - Campsongs Productions presents the world premiere of House Musical - Coming of Age in the Age of House, with book by Marcus Waller, music by Scott Free (with Michael Foley) and lyrics by Scott Free and ...
|RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD in Chicago Aug. 4 2023-03-12|
--From a press release - RuPaul's Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD, the largest drag show on earth, returns in 2023 with a show in Chicago Aug. 4 and in 100+ cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe and Mexico! ...
|SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal 2023-03-10|
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...
|Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2023 Gala May 13 at The Old Post Office 2023-03-06|
--From a press release - CHICAGO (March 6, 2023) — The Steppenwolf Ensemble and Board of Trustees are pleased to host Steppenwolf 2023 Galaan unforgettable evening celebrating 47 years of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed ...
|Center on Halsted presents annual Intergenerational Talent Show 2023-03-06|
- On March 2, Center on Halsted hosted its Fifth Annual Intergenerational Talent Show, featuring performances from participants from the Youth and Family Services and the Senior Services programs. Participants in the free event presented a program ...
|SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed' 2023-03-04|
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...
|Theater Review: one in two 2023-03-01|
- Playwright: Donja R. Love. At: PrideArts at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway Tickets: 773-857-0222; $35. Runs through March 19 Playwright Donja R. Love stresses that lower case letters should be used for the title of ...
|The Jeff Awards to honor Myrna Salazar with special non-Equity honor 2023-03-01|
--From a Jeff Awards press release - (March 1, 2023 - Chicago) — Recognizing a lifetime of theater excellence, the Joseph Jefferson Awards will honor the late arts activist Myrna Salazar at the organization's 49th Anniversary Non-Equity Awards celebration on Monday, March 2 ...
|PrideArts presents 'one in two' 2023-02-22|
--From a press release - Title: one in two. By Donja R. Love/ Directed by Jordan Ratlliff Monday, Feb. 20 - 7:30 p.m. Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago One in two Black men in America who have sex with other men will be diagnosed ...
|Christine Heesun Hwang personifies Eponine in Les Miserables 2023-02-19|
- Out performer Christine Heesun Hwang "dreamed a dream" of joining the cast one of Les Miserables—now showing at the Cadillac Palace Theater—and now she's made that dream into a reality. Set in 19th-century France, Les Miserables ...
|SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest 2023-02-19|
- Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...