Friday, December 18, 2015

Review of The Heir Apparent at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Heir Apparent. It was by David Ives adapted from Le Légataire universel by Jean-François Regnard. It was directed by John Rando. It was about this man named Eraste (Nate Burger) and he was in love with this girl named Isabelle (Emily Peterson) but he was not super rich, so he went to his uncle Geronte (Paxton Whitehead) who he had been taking care of. But he does not want to give the money to Eraste, even though he owes him the most. The story is about Eraste and Geronte's servants Crispin (Cliff Saunders) and Lisette (Jessie Fisher) trying to show Geronte how good a person Eraste is so he can get the money and marry Isabelle. As you may imagine, hilarity ensues. I thought this was an interesting show and it was fun, and I hadn't seen anything like it before.

There were so many very funny things in this show. There is one time when Isabelle is so upset because she is going to have to marry someone who is not her own true love, but somebody who is more gross and more for her mom (Linda Kimbrough). And she throws herself into this circular cushioned bench that looks like a donut and falls face first into it, crying, and her skirt floofs up. And it was so hilarious. Another funny thing that Isabelle did was whenever she would leave Eraste they would turn into this big cheesy soap opera and say a bunch of things in French and just run away. And I loved it. There was also a time when Lisette and Eraste were trying to pull off pretending to be servants to Crispin, who is disguised as Geronte. And he makes them do so many crazy silly things in front of Scruple the lawyer (Patrick Kerr), like telling them to chew up this paper. And when people look away, they spit out the paper and it is hilarious. When Isabelle, Eraste, and Crispin all dress up as pig ladies to fool Geronte that his niece is a pig lady, it was so funny. Crispin comes out at one time, but then the others don't know he is dressing up as a pig lady, so each of them decides on their own that they are going to dress up as pig ladies, and they all keep coming in but as pig ladies in the exact same costume. Eventually they scare Geronte so much that he runs away into the other room because he is too scared of all the pig ladies that are coming.

Geronte transforms over the show into a different personality. He becomes a different person overnight. I thought that is was amazing how much he could alter how he acted in such a short amount of time. That made me like the second act a lot better than the first act because it was really fun to see the transformation and also how people reacted to the transformation. And also, everyone thought that he was dead! So that is also a pretty big change. I thought the people's expressions when he came out for the last time in the second act were hilarious. Their mouths dropped. This play is mostly ridiculousness, but it does show you that people can transform overnight. Just by thinking over their decisions, one can become a better person. Everybody does become better people by the end, but along the way they are worse people because of greed and selfishness.

The language was a not a normal talking language, but it wasn't Shakespeare either. It was more like listening to a rhyming poem with crass humor in it. Most of the language was not appropriate to the time period of the play and I wasn't a huge fan of that. I do understand that they did that because it was a twist on the language of someone who wrote like Molière. I think they wanted the audience to get more of the jokes. I feel like that did happen, but I just didn't feel like I was transported back to that time and I expected to be because of the beautiful set (by Kevin Depinet) and the fabulous costumes (by David Woolard) and the way that they spoke. So when I wasn't, I felt kind of like they told me what they were giving me but then didn't actually end up giving it to me. It didn't ruin the play for me, but it was something that didn't make the play better for me.

People who would like this show are people who like crazy transformations, French soap operas, and pig-nosed nieces. I thought this show was fun and I enjoyed it. And I think if you are prepared for the language to be different from what you expect for the time period, you might enjoy it even more than I did.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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