WINDY CITY TIMES
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 3731 times since Wed Sep 3, 2014
Playwright: Max Frisch, adapted by Alistair Beaton. At: Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 N. Broadway. Tickets: 866-811-4111; www.strawdog.org; $28. Runs through: Sept. 27
The most reliable tool for gulling foolish citizens, says one of pyromaniacs lending Max Frisch's cautionary tale its title, is the unvarnished truth"because no one ever believes it." The irony of his observation is illustrated with unflinching accuracy by the example of Gottlieb Biedermann, a humble hero no better or worse than average.
Of course, definitions of "average" may differ widely. Though the prosperous hair-tonic manufacturer professes to be an upstanding member of his community, he thinks nothing of discharging the inventor of his money-making product, leaving the latter's family destitute, and forcing his former employee to suicidal despair. Unconcerned with the welfare of his peers, even to shrugging off news of mysterious fires breaking out within his city, Biedermann is more annoyed than alarmed when a homeless man turns up at his door and quickly secures himself a berth in his host's attic. Soon another vagrant arrives, along with several barrels of gasoline, bundles of kindling, a spool of fuse-wire and a detonation device. When the uneasy homeowner proposes to eject the intruders, they remind him that he is not innocent of crimes against society.
At the play's premiere in 1958, audiences immediately recognized Hitler as the perpetrator of the coming holocaust, but the propensity of otherwise blameless citizens to ignore imminent threats is a universal human flaw. Later productions have identified the Atomic Bomb or Global Warming as the encroaching evil, and political parties have assigned blame for Biedermann's indecision upon liberal idealism ( as if genuine convictions, and not hypocrisy, were his ultimate undoing ). Indeed, late in the play, Biedermann addresses the audience, demanding of us, "When did you guess? What would you have doneand when?"
However astute ( not to mention timely ) its moral, a sermon as didactic as Frisch's needs additional spectacle to hold our attention for 90 intermissionless minutes. Director Matt Hawkins has enlisted a technical team to surround us with thunderstorms, smoke, sirens and the ominous roar of rising flames. More important, he has instructed his actors to adopt individual idiosyncrasies for their characters, rendering always coherent even such cryptic conventions as a classical-Greek chorus of firefighters who lament their inability to do their job when people like Biedermann exacerbate the danger through selfish denial. ( Also indicted for his complicity is a "Doctor of Philosophy" who attempts to impose a manifesto upon wanton hooliganism, only to recoil in horror at the discovery that "they do it because they like it!" ) Whatever may disturb your sleep nowadays, you can't say you weren't warned.
This article shared 3731 times since Wed Sep 3, 2014
| ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE|
|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 ...
|Theater Review: Cabaret continues to reflect on our modern challenges 2023-02-14|
- Title: Cabaret. Book: Joe Masteroff; Score: John Kander & Fred Ebb. At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: 773-777-9884 or www.PorchlightMusicTheatre.org; prices begin at $25. Runs through ...
|SHOWBIZ Isaac Mizrahi, Viola Davis, Laura Jane Grace, Elton John, GLAAD 2023-02-11|
- On Sherri Shepherd's talk show, entertainer/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said he'd love for out actor Dan Levy to portray him in a potential biopic based on Mizrahi's memoir, I.M., The Wrap noted. "Dan Levy, OK," Mizrahi ...