Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review of The Phantom Tollbooth at The Theatre School at DePaul

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Phantom Tollbooth. It was by Susan Nanus. It was based on the book by Norton Juster and it was directed by David Catlin. It was about a little boy named Milo (Erinn Fredin) who gets a package with a tollbooth in it. Totally normal. And then he goes on this magical adventure to go save two princesses of Sweet Rhyme (Taylor Blim) and Pure Reason (Vahishta Vafadari). And he meets a dog named Tock (Brian Rife) and a humbug named The Humbug (Dominique Watkins) and lots of other amazing creatures. I really loved this show. I think it is great to take your kids to and I think it is a great adaptation of the book. I love David Catlin's work, like Lookingglass Alice and The Little Prince. All the plays of his I've seen have circus elements, and I think that is really awesome.

This play's look is just mesmerizing all around. The very first thing you see is Milo's room which looks like any little boy's or girl's room, but then the play starts and you see a clock (Shadana Patterson) which just looks like a woman in a black top with a white skirt with numbers all around. Then she pulls the skirt up with her hands and then you see a clock. The costumes were by Catharine Young and I thought that they were all amazing. I also really liked it when Rhyme and Reason tore off their dresses and there were sun outfits under them. I also really liked the Humbug's outfit. I thought that it was super cool because it had these awesome sunglasses that could go up and look like bugs eyes. I also liked how he had two walking sticks which were also like praying mantis legs. And he wore tap shoes and tap-danced everywhere he went! I liked the tower that Rhyme and Reason went to (scenic design by Jake Ives) because it was very modern and not at all like the tower you'd think that they would be in. The car was super cool because it still looked like a toy car. It was cool that you could see the feet powering it, because then you could see the imagination part of it.

I though that the banquet scene was really awesome because they ate their entire meal on a held-up cloth. This is a trick banquet basically. What happens in it is that they say what they want to eat and then they eat their words Badump pshhh! They used the cloth as basically a circus/magic act because they pulled it from under and waved it above their heads and everything was gone. King Azaz, the Unabridged (Awate Serequeberhan) looked basically like a nerd. In a good way--I am a nerd myself and I love nerds. I am not using the word nerd in a mean context. He had thick glasses and I thought that he did a great job acting like sort of a doofus but still seeming smart. Another thing about the banquet scene that I liked was how The Spelling Bee (Maya Malan-Gonzalez) and the Humbug were basically glaring at each other when they weren't talking to the king or eating.

The Dodecahedron was played by three people, but I don't know who they were. I think they were Sam Krey, Sam Haines, and Zivon Toplin. The Dodecahedron is a giant metal dodecahedron that they move around with their own hands. A dodecahedron is a mathematical shape with 12 faces. The character is a person who helps Milo, Tock, and The Humbug find Digitopolis and the faces are really faces meant for talking and eating and smelling. Each face has a different expression. I thought that the character was cool before this but this made it even cooler because it incorporates the circus elements. You see the different faces because the actors move with the dodecahedron.

So Milo, Tock, and The Humbug are going to the tower in the sky to rescue the princesses. But first they have to defeat a bunch of demons. Because they have to. One of them is the Terrible Trivium (Krey) who just makes people do tedious work so they will never get to the princesses. Mwahahaha. This Terrible Trivium was on stilts which makes him even more threatening. I thought it was great how the Demon of Insincerity (Haines) was adorable but also kind of terrifying. He reminded me of an old-fashioned Furby. He basically was this puffball puppet with long arms and a little bill mouth and puppy eyes. If you imagine this it is the most adorable thing on earth but it is evil because it just tells lies that people would want to hear.

People who would like this show are people who like 12-faced mathematical shapes, eating words, and adorable demons. I think people should definitely go see this show. It is funny, true to the book, and circus-filled! I had a lot of fun seeing it with my friend Maggie, and I think you will have fun taking your friends too!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review of Step Up Productions' Dead Accounts at The Den Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Dead Accounts. It was by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Jason Gerace. It was about a man who loved Graeter's ice cream named Jack (Steve O'Connell) and he had come back home to his parents' house in Ohio because he's having trouble back in New York. He wasn't welcomed home with open arms by his sister Lorna (Emily Tate) because he had bought a little (actually a LOT) too much of ice cream. Food can help you feel better about yourself, but it can also make you feel worse. And he needs to feel better about himself because he did something bad, but I won't give it away. You have to go and see the show! This is not just a play about food; it is about mixed feelings, childhood, and money. People should definitely go see this show. I had so much fun because it had a lot of puzzles and it is fun to play with the ideas.

The show started out with a scene between Lorna and Jack. This was when Jack had just arrived and she was super mad. But he didn't want her to be mad so he started to try to make her feel better with ice cream. But she was on a diet. Jack thinks about food as something that can make him feel at home and like he is not a bad person and like he is back being a kid like when he lived back in Ohio. Lorna thinks that ice cream is something that will make you feel that you wish you had never done that because then you'll be fat. But I think that she is sort of a cynic for that. She worries too much about what she looks like. But we shouldn't just stuff our faces; we should eat when we want to eat or feel like we should eat. And you also can have too much money. If you have just enough money that people won't think you are rich or poor, people will leave you alone. Lorna sees the world as a place to try to be a better person, even if that makes you sad, and Jack sees it as a place where you can eat and have fun and spend money a lot. Nobody really has the best of lives in this play, so the audience has to puzzle out what is the best part of each person's life.

The relationship between Lorna and Jack's friend Phil (Bradford R. Lund) was basically that Phil had asked Lorna on a date in high school but then never asked her out again. So she thought she'd done something wrong, but he was just scared that he'd done something wrong. When two people want to be together but both of them think they've done something wrong to the relationship, that is not a good thing. Jack and Jenny (Elizabeth Antonucci) also have a messed up relationship but not in the same way because Jack and Jenny don't think that they did something wrong. They think that each other did something wrong. I don't feel the same about both relationships. I think Jack and Jenny should get a divorce, but I think the other two should start dating because they actually haven't done anything wrong. Phil and Lorna's relationship is a kind of a puzzle because you have to assemble it just right for them to be able to get together.

There is a funny scene where Jenny was on the phone with her lawyer/boyfriend. And she is telling him all about the bad things in the house like how they have weird silverware and mounted plates up on the wall. And then the mom Barbara (Millie Hurley) walks in and Jenny doesn't see her. Barbara stands there in the doorway for a long time. It was funny because of the mother's expression when Jenny was talking about the plates. And Jenny is finally done talking and then the mom starts to rant about how those are beautiful plates and stuff like that. Jenny is being mean about the stuff in the house because they don't live in a giant mansion with a giant garage and a beautiful garden with fountains like she does. But they have made their own little place where they feel comforted. Barbara likes her own house because it makes her happy and she thinks it is beautiful. And outside in their yard where the trees are planted is where they always like to be because it reminds them of when they planted those trees in their childhood. And also the mom knows that Jenny doesn't value her mansion more than they value their little house.

People who would like this show are people who like puzzles, surprises, and ice cream. I had a lot of fun at this show and I think that it was a great experience to have because I had never seen a play like this before. It was so great. It makes you think about morality, relationships, and dairy. I think people should definitely go and see it!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Emerald City Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It was directed by Ernie Nolan. The music was by George Stiles and the book was by Anthony Drewe. It was about a little girl named Goldilocks (Mary Margaret Roberts) whose father (Martin James Hughes) was making a new road but it would go right through the three bears's (Claire Kaiser, Blake Reddick, and Tommy Bullington) house. One day, Goldilocks came upon the house. She had run away from her dad because she couldn't chop wood with him. And she basically vandalizes the house. Most of you know the story. I think this could be a fun show to take little kids to because I think it was a good pace and length for kids under 5.

I thought that this show had problems with associating gender with certain things. If you take your child to go see this show, you should talk to them afterward because when you leave the show it leaves you with two different perspectives on what women are good for. One of them is a song that Goldilocks sings about being a girl and how she can do anything. And I thought, "Yeah! That's right! Girls can do anything!" But then in a song a little bit before, the bears were singing a song about porridge--which I thought went on a little too long--and then the boys are asked to make their own porridge. But then they try to make porridge and both fail miserably. That is sexist against men and women because it suggests that women are only good for one thing, cooking and doing all the housework. It is sexist against men because it is like, "Cooking is women's work. Men can't cook!" (I imagine that being said by a commercial announcer from 40's radio.) I thought we dealt with that a long time ago! I think it is great how women can do housework but men can do the same, and both of them can also have other jobs. Whatever people do, their work should be cherished and not taken for granted.

I thought that it was great that this play decided to deal with environmental issues, but the little kids I think wouldn't have gotten it, only the kids coming that were like 6 and over would have gotten the clues that they were talking about environmental issues. The play suggests that people are killing animals to make big city roads and more pollution. But I think a three year old doesn't really understand about death and bulldozers that could knock down trees and kill birds. And if they do, this play would just make them sad. The play doesn't think that people should just not make roads; it thinks that people should plan them out so they cannot kill animals. That is a good idea, but I think it is more appropriate for older kids who can actually deal with the idea of animals dying and actually think about it.

I liked it when Goldilocks ripped off her skirt and there were pants under it. I thought that showed how she was a girl who was ready to go out and explore. And I thought it was cute how she had a bear backpack that she would turn around to show things. The costumes (by Megan E. Turner) were pretty cool overall. I liked Mama Bear's outfit because it looked like something from Marilyn Monroe's time. I also thought it was cool how they taught the kids how to actually make porridge. They told them all the ingredients and they also showed you how to cook it. Then the children can go home and make porridge, and it will remind them of how much fun they had.

People who would like this show are people who like animal rights, cute bear backpacks, and porridge. It is getting hard for me to think about what I would think about this show if I were five, but I think that little kids would probably like this show a lot. Older kids might want to wait to see BFG at Emerald City, which I am very excited to go and see!

Photos: Johnny Knight

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's Season on the Line

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Season on the Line. It was by Shawn Pfautsch and directed by Jess McLeod. It was about a theater company that was not in very good shape because the person who was directing Moby Dick, Ben Adonna (Thomas J. Cox),which was supposed to be their grand production, was a little insane. Actually, a lot insane. He was insane because he didn't think about what was good for the theater company very much. He just thought about what was good for himself and the production. And I think this play taught you that you shouldn't think too much about the reviewer if they are scary to you because then you will try too hard to make it good and then it will be bad. And if the reviewer even seems nice, you should do your best not to be scared. You should make art because you want to. I thought this show was very cool because there are not that many shows about what it is like to be in a theater company. It shows you that it can be very hard, that it is not all happy happy fun times, but it can also be an experience that can change a person, like the Narrator (Ty Olwin) changes from not knowing anything about theater to feeling like he is a pro because he has experienced almost everything that could possibly happen in the theater.

I thought it was cool how the set (by Lee Keenan) looked like an old swimming pool because that was what the theater was supposed to look like. It was cool how there was a hole in the swimming pool that was basically the entrance to the stage. The set told you that this was a theater company that needed help because their backstage and front stage both looked like old swimming pools. I thought that would have been a cool set even for just Moby Dick.

I liked how the meetings seemed actually like production meetings and meetings of actors. This play is about what it is like to be backstage or onstage at a theater. There are a lot of things that are unanswered in even the tenth meeting. Like the costume designer Valerie (Jessica Dean Turner) seemed like the nicest character, and she found out that all her costume ideas were going to be trashed because of Ben. Every designer had their ideas trashed either by Ben or by Faye (Tiffany Yvonne Cox) who was basically a pretty strange woman who came around showing everyone this paper flower, which was supposedly going to be the set. But nobody knew how it was going to work because they didn't have enough money. And they couldn't make it electronic. This shows you that their company needs help because their only help is this crazy woman.

They had a bunch of different types of directors to show you what it is like to have different directors and to experience them one after the other. Elizabeth Fricke (Marika Mashburn) was very nice and funny and she treated her actors and designers all like she'd known them forever. She was happy to accept other people's ideas. Peter Trellis (Andy Lutz) was a director who wanted to get things done but had a slightly short temper. But he wasn't so mean that people hated him. He wants to make every person that he is with feel like they are awesome and cute or beautiful. He starts every rehearsal by saying something like, "this looks like a very attractive crowd of actors!" He is not very confident about himself so he needs help from people. I think that Elizabeth was much more confident about herself than Peter, but we still haven't gotten to the worst director. Ben Adonna was basically the scariest director that there has ever been because he wanted everything to be perfect and exactly his way. No one could have any say about it except him him him him him Faye and him.

I thought that Joao (Christopher M. Walsh) was really funny because he had all these different hand signs and he was so serious about them. It was just so funny. One time the stage manager Day (Maggie Kettering) told the narrator what Joao meant, but I think he was actually insulting her. I thought the stage manager character was a great character to have in a show because most people don't understand how hard a stage manager's job is. So now, I want to give a shout out to Brian DesGranges who is the real stage manager for this show! The stage manager's job is so hard because anything the director can't do it is the stage manager's job. She has to fix the costumes if the designer isn't around and take care of all the actors' problems. And if they have an evil director named Ben then the stage manager's job is the worst!

The benefit scene was very funny because of this giant speech that Ben had and when Nan (Allison Latta), who was an actress and like a managing director, started talking to him like "Ok, I think that is enough" he just kept going and going about how awesome his production was going to be. Then her face just went into fear and then he would glare at her, but then he would be done.

The lighting designer's name was Ashley Salt (Mary Hollis Inboden) and I liked how she seemed very serious about her job. But she was also a funny character. I loved when she brought in her mini light system to show to everyone and it changed different colors and everyone was like "Oh! That's very cool! Lovely!" and they kept going on like that. She acts all nice when she is around other people, but when she talks to the audience she seems really angry!

There was a character named Kaku (Danny Bernardo) who was basically a bartender and an actor in The Great Gatsby. He was also very nice to everybody. I think he was kind of in love with the narrator, but maybe he was just really good friends with him and loved him when he was drunk. He was special because he never lost hope really even when Ben was being mean to everyone.

I think that I would love to see a Great Gatsby with Mickey (Abu Ansari) in it because even if you didn't see him actually act on stage as Gatsby, you saw him rehearse and he was great. They cast him as Gatsby because they wanted to make a change to make Gatsby not white. It seemed like a great idea because when they say, "We're all white here," if people look at the waiter, who is not as significant a character, then it wouldn't show how much Gatsby is discriminated against.

Amos Delaney (Shane Kenyon) was basically a movie star who came to be in the shows because he used to be a good friend of the company. But he is also a professional jerk. He thinks he should be treated like the biggest hero on earth, which he is not at all. He also basically turns into a four year old through the middle of the play because he discovers that he is not who he is pretending to be. So he starts over by being a little kid again, so he can start over his life and be like he used to be. You feel like at the beginning that he is hopeless and that he will never get better and he will always be a jerk, but at the end you actually feel sorry for him.

The reviewer Arthur Williamson (Sean Sinitski), also known as the white whale, basically everything in the play depends on him because if he doesn't give the shows a good review it is the end of the company. I think that it is good that reviewers have power but not that they can have so much power that by giving a bad review everyone would be without a job. I think it is true, as Arthur Williamson says, that you want to be true to your readers and be true to the theater company, but you can't always do both. Arthur Williamson was a sympathetic character because you saw it was hard for him to be kind to everyone. I can say "people who would like this show" about anything because even if I don't like a show, maybe other people would like it. I try to find the best things possible in the shows to put in my reviews. And there has never been a time in a show where I couldn't find something that was at least mildly good.

People who would like this show are people who like reviewers, theater companies, and paper flowers. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I really enjoyed this show because it was funny but it was also sad because the theater company in the play is on its last legs and you know it. I think that people who aren't familiar with what it is like backstage will learn a lot from this show and love it, and I think people who do know a lot about theater will also love this show because they will recognize certain aspects of what their own experiences have been like.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review of Upended Productions' Alice.

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Alice. It was created and curated by Noelle Krimm. This doesn't just take place in a normal theater; it takes place all over Andersonville. I really really had a lot of fun at this show. I felt like I was about to go on an amusement park ride when I was waiting for it to start. You didn't know at all what was going to happen next. You didn't know what was going to be around the corner or anything. You could see a crazy card man or you could see a little bunny bucket with candy in it. I think this was a great way to do Alice in Wonderland because usually you are just watching people on an adventure, but in this case you are actually being the Alice on the adventure. I loved this show so much! It may make your feet tired, but it is totally worth it!

I will be talking about a bunch of different things, but I won't give everything away. I'll just be doing little snippets about each chapter. I thought that the Hostess Bunny (Dina Marie Walters) was a great character to follow. Not everybody will get to follow her, but I'm positive that all the others are also very good. I thought the Hostess Bunny was great because she was very hilarious because her best friend was a housework and cooking book! I felt a little bit that I could die at any moment around her because there were graffiti and signs around that said, "Don't Trust the Bunny" and "Don't Follow the Bunny" and she would cover up the signs and be like, "Don't look!" She seemed very innocent and very nice but sometimes in movies and stuff like that the nicest people are the most cruel.

The Dodos were a bunch of birds who liked to squirt water in their faces when they weren't working. They squirted water in their faces because they didn't want to go extinct. It reminded me of the pool of tears that Alice gets washed into. They kept saying "yes" and "no" or "do" and "don't," but the funny thing was even when they said "don't" they would still spray water in their faces. And then we had to run around and answer questions and I thought that was pretty fun!

The Bills (Greg Allen, Brittany Anderson, Taylor Bailey, Niki Dee, and Christopher Lewis) come around sometimes and do card tricks for you or give you notes that help you along your way. If you have not read the book or seen the movie (what is wrong with you?), Bill is a lizard who comes and helps the White Rabbit get Alice out of the house when she is giant. I loved the Bills because they were very very very surprising. I think without the Bills it wouldn't have been as fun because it wouldn't have been as thrilling to walk from one location to another without them surprising you or your bunny. And it is fun to see your Bunny's reaction to them.

There was a part where a man who is basically a chapter (David Kodeski), you came to him and he was sitting reading his dream diary. I thought that was really cool because then you are supposed to send him letters about your dreams, but he didn't actually like people telling him about dreams, but he was kind of the bearer of dreams. His dream was how there was a giant dog and he threw a stick and it came back and made him very very mad. The dog is from a chapter in Alice in Wonderland and so is the rest of his dream. I thought the shop (Wooly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities) was very cool because there was a giraffe and a skeleton was right behind me and there were actually people in the shop staring at all of us.

The Caterpillar (Clifton Frei) was in a bar (Simon's) and he considered himself "a small one." So then he talked for a very long time, kind of nonsensically, about being a small one. And he made diagrams out of lollipops which he had been unwrapping and not eating. So the caterpillar was kind of a drunk, and it is sort of appropriate because in the book the caterpillar is smoking something. And that is something people do a lot when they are drunk.

There was a section where you were supposed to sit down and watch a movie (by Logan Kibbens). And there was this grown man just swinging back and forth. And there was a baby, which seemed to be unattended, swinging nearby. In the movie there was no baby that turned into a pig and I think the baby was supposed to be swinging behind us being not taken care of. I thought the movie was very strange, in a good way. Sometimes when they do these kind of insanely strange stories they don't make them strange enough. I liked how it seemed to be out in the desert in the middle of nowhere and the cat (Maesa Pullman) was out there playing an accordion and just kept smiling.

There was a tea party which took place someplace--well I won't give it away--but took place somewhere a tea party wouldn't take place. I loved the surprise of that. Because you look where they are and then you are like "What the…?" and I looked away for a second and looked back and they were still there. Then you start having a conversation with them. And they start talking about bad boyfriends and stuff and I thought that was really cool. And they all did this one breath and the one breath was all together and then they did a few dance moves and they all lay down. They all lay down because they couldn't take it anymore and it reminded me of the dormouse falling asleep at the end of the tea party.

Then you walk into this room where they tell everyone to go in and visit the queen. And so you do. And by the time I was first in line I was hyperventilating like a puppy because I know the story of Alice in Wonderland and I know that the queen is not supposed to be a nice guy. Then you went and teared up paper and stuff like that because they asked you to and you had to do what the queen asked. And the first thing they ask you is, "Do you play croquet?" and I said "Sort of" because I played it once and I know the concept of it.

The next thing is the school under the sea. Striding Lion did this part. I saw them do American Me and Remember the Alamo and I thought those were both amazing. And I thought this was also very cool because it seemed like it was a modern dance school. I liked how they asked some of the people to come up and do the dance moves. They asked my mom and she said it should have been me because I know how to dance. But I think that their point was that no one in the school could learn anything very much because the moves were so hard and they showed it once. Then the teacher got so sad that we had to go comfort her by pretending to be waves. And then they would each sing a song about homework. I thought that was pretty funny how homework songs would cheer her up!

Then we went to visit Chad the Bird (Josh Zagoren) who was at the court. And I thought it was funny because he said: "I was looking for my keys, and nobody helped, and they were all humans just like you. So you are all guilty!" But then I won't give away the ending, because that was too funny! When my friend Clara and I were watching Chad the Bird, we turned around and the card man was standing right there and we just freaked out. When would glance back every few seconds, but then one time when we looked back he was about to look right at us and it was so funny.

Then there is the ending scene by Sophisticated Cornbread (I love that name and it makes me very hungry for some sweet cornbread) where there is the King of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts, and a few executors who just halt you. And then they have you stand under important or unimportant and my whole family stood under important, but then my dad had to go to unimportant even though I thought he was very important. But then something terrifying happens, but I won't tell you what it is. It is not too terrifying for kids, but it was just surprising.

People who would like this show are people who like bunnies, insanity, and lollipops. I think should definitely see this show. It is so funny, and I had so much fun, and I think you should bring all your best friends to it because they will have a lot of fun. It is basically like you get to go on the experience of going to Wonderland with your friend.

Photos: Johnny Knight

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review of Fail/Safe at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Fail/Safe. It was based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler and it was adapted by Nikki Klix and Anderson Lawfer. (Awww.) It was directed by Anderson Lawfer. It was about a bomb that was going toward Moscow and the president (Tom Hickey) said that he would sacrifice New York if it actually hit Moscow. And everyone had to make a decision about how they would get the bomb down so they wouldn't have to sacrifice New York. It took place in three different places, but all of the characters and places were in the same space. So they didn't have to do set changes or anything; they just brought up the lights on a different part of the stage (scenic design by Mike Mroch). I thought that was really awesome how you got to see what every character's reaction was to the same story. Like the Professor (Brian Amidei) thought they should go straight to war and have a controlled war but at the same time you are seeing Buck be like, "I hope that there is no war of any kind." I thought this show was very intense and nerve wracking and fun because you had no idea what was going to happen next. At the beginning everything is like hoppity-do, everything is great, and then it turns into this giant potential nuclear disaster. I think that people should definitely go and see this show. I had a lot of fun!

The president and his translator Buck were in a bunker because they think there was about to be a war and they don't want the president to be killed. Then they are trying to compromise with Moscow so they won't start throwing bombs at America. What I thought was cool was that you usually expect the president to be in the biggest and fanciest space possible, but he was actually in the most unlively, cramped place you can think of. Sometimes with a very suspenseful play you go too overboard with something, but with this I think the president and Buck seemed calm enough that they could do what they had to do, but scared enough that they didn't seem crazy. I thought the president was very well portrayed because even though he had a lot of power he didn't seem selfish. When you were seeing if he would drop the bombs on New York, that was very suspenseful!

The Nerve Center is where everything starts, where the entire nuclear war might start because they have this new technology and they are showing it to Congressman Raskob (Joe Mack) and an engineer named Knapp (Lee Russell) but then they see that there is a plane coming to the U.S. that might have a bomb and nobody knows what it is. I thought that Colonel Cascio (Stuart Ritter) and General Bogan (Mark Pracht) are two of the most complicated characters in the show because they feel like the Colonel has to obey the General on everything that he says but then he tries to go against him. Then he gets into trouble for that, also because he happened to hit his boss's face with a phone. Their job is to obey even if they think it would kill everyone in the world. I don't think that is a good way to treat people, to make them obey everything you say even if it will hurt people. They make those rules because they think it will be better to have someone who is older and more experienced telling everyone what to do. I think General Bogan was right in this case because it would be better to lose 5 lives than losing like 5,000.

A lot of funny and sad stuff happened in the Pentagon. Everyone had a different view of things. Sometimes their opinions were so crazy that you could hardly believe them. But sometimes the people had ideas that were so great, you just wished the people would believe them. The professor's idea that you have a war that can be controlled on both sides sounded impossible, because you don't know what your enemy is going to do next. But the professor's craziest and horriblest idea was to just kill everybody in Moscow. The idea that I thought was great was the one to try to get the bomb back in any way possible and Brigadier General Black (Carmine Grisolia) has that idea. Black is basically the good guy in the story. He tries to follow orders even though they require him to hurt people because he knows if there is a war it would last for a very long time. I thought that General Stark (Dave Skvarla) was really funny because he said this hilarious line about the professor which was something along the lines of, "When will the university pay to cut your hair." I just loved the expressions that came over both their faces.

People who would like this show are people who like suspense, old-timey computers, and haircuts. I really liked this show. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I think this show should be for ages 9 and up because it is very sad, but I think people who know more about what war is actually like and don't think of it as a game would be able to handle it. I think people should definitely go and see this show. I loved it!

Photos: Tom McGrath

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review of King Lear at Chicago Shakespeare

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called King Lear. It was written by William Shakespeare. It was directed by Barbara Gaines and it was about King Lear (Larry Yando) who has three daughters and he was giving his kingdom away to his daughters and he loved his youngest daughter Cordelia (Nehassaiu deGannes) the most. (Don't tell her sisters!) And his two older daughters, Goneril (Bianca LaVerne Jones) and Regan (Jessiee Datino), really went overboard with telling him how much they loved him. Then when it was Cordelia's turn, she just said "I love you as a daughter should." And then King Lear gets really angry. Then the rest of the play is him realizing he did the wrong thing and realizing that he shouldn't have given any land to his other daughters because it was all just a plot to get all his power and land. This play is about betrayal, love, government, and how Lear can't think about what his actions will make other people feel like or will make him feel soon. I had a lot of fun at the play as well as it being sad. I think that is a great combination because then there is a mystery to the play. Just because there was a horrible thing doesn't mean there is going to have to be another horrible thing next--sometimes you get a funny part.

I thought the man who played King Lear was amazing because he made King Lear funny and made you able to sympathize with him, but you're also kind of angry with him because he is very gullible and he never really tries to learn anything about his faults and how they cause the things around him. I thought that the opening was really funny because it opens up with him trying to change the music on his radio, but then it keeps not being the song he wants and then he throws the controller on the floor. And then the man who is standing next to him pulls out another one. It shows you that he is very rich that he has so many of these he can break one every few seconds. He deals with his anger by throwing things and not by thinking over what his problem is. You like him least when he sends off Cordelia and you like him most when he goes back to Cordelia. He starts out being angry at Cordelia and then he realizes his mistake.

My favorite scene was when the rain happened. The sound effects (Lindsay Jones) and lighting (Michael Gend) were amazing and terrifying because the thunder was so loud and the lighting was like lightning. The intensity was like if somebody was really in the storm because it was so loud and you didn't know when it was going to happen. When the scene was happening it was when King Lear was going crazy. I think those two things went together because the storm was kind of going crazy and the storm was making him crazy and you felt like you were in his mind because of course he wasn't really commanding the clouds but it seemed like he was. This is one of the only plays in Shakespeare where there is no magic. Like in Romeo and Juliet there's the magic elixir, in Hamlet there's a ghost, and in Julius Caesar the prophecies actually come true and the blood fountain dream. Edmund (Jesse Luken) lies about a dream that he has about his brother Edgar (Steve Haggard) doing wrong. What is weird is that Lear is kind of like Prospero in the storm scene, but Prospero is actually commanding the storm with magic. Lear also sees Edgar as a philosopher when he is dressed up like a crazy person and pretending he is a crazy person. It makes the story seem more real because of how little magic there is. If this story is real, it makes it very very sad.

I thought it was cool how Cordelia was a general because usually she is just a princess in a tower, and they made her seem more capable. And it made it seem more like when Lear disowned her, she didn't just go and marry a jerk. France (Christopher Chmelik) let her have freedom to do whatever she wanted to do.

I thought that the Fool (Ross Lehman) might have been in love with King Lear because of how he treated him. He treated him very nicely and when he was sad he would try to make him feel better. It was not like a fool usually would, like telling a bunch of different jokes; he would actually comfort him by giving him a hug. And King Lear gave the fool his coat so he wouldn't be cold and stuff like that. I think that King Lear was in love with the Fool because of that.

Edgar and Edmund were not very good brothers because Edmund was trying to get Edgar into trouble with his dad so Edmund would be Gloucester's (Michael Aaron Lindner) favorite child. Edmund was basically the villain in the play but there were also other villains. Like King Lear at the beginning is a villain. And Regan and Goneril and the Duke of Cornwall (Lance Baker) also were evil because two of them put out somebody's eyes and the other one lied in so many ways. I think Edgar has nothing against his brother and you feel sorry for him and just want to shout out from the audience: "He's lying to you! Don't go! Your father loves you!" I thought Steve did a great job at being crazy but not so crazy that you absolutely thought he'd really gone crazy. I liked when he was trying out how he could be crazy in different ways. I remember one where he says a line in like the weirdest way possible--like it doesn't even sound possible that it is crazy--and then he's like, "No." And I just found that funny because usually in Shakespeare when someone is trying to do believable pretending to be something that they are not, they're not very good but they don't know that. Like Bottom thinks that he is the best actor in the world, but actually he is really bad. After a lot of practicing Edgar finds out a way that he can pretend to be crazy. But then when he gets out he realizes he's just facing a bunch of crazy people: the Fool, King Lear, and Gloucester.

People who would like this show are people who like tomboy Cordelias, amazing storm scenes, and stereo controller destruction. I think people should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, scary, and King Lear is amazing! I really liked this show because it made me realize how funny and sad King Lear can be.

Photos: Liz Lauren