Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Red Bowl at the Jeffs. It was by Beth Hyland and it was directed by Rebecca Willingham. It was about a woman named Elena (Georgi McCauley) who had recently directed a version of Chekhov's Three Sisters that was nominated for a Jeff Award. And she has broken up with her boyfriend Gabe (Aaron Latterell), who had been in the show as Vershinin and is now dating Julie (Ella Pennington) who had played Irina. I think this show is really funny and relatable for people who are in the Chicago theater community because there are so many moments in this show where they will have had an experience almost exactly like that. That is very true for me. You have a lot of empathy for the characters, so it is hard to watch them go through such recognizable problems. The play is about friendship, betrayal, and the beauty and the struggles of making theater that is appreciated.
I really liked the very first part of the play where Elena, Caroline (Anne Thompson), and Alex (Faith Servant) were talking while they waited for the rest of the cast to show up. I loved their friendship and how their conversation was so casual. The rest of the show didn't have much casual conversation, everything had an underlying meaning and sometimes a backhanded tone. It was really nice at the beginning to see three women just talking about their lives and having genuine love for each other. It shows you how not everyone is in competition with each other. Alex had an audition that morning for the Goodman's Our Town, which ends up being a plot point later, but at this moment it just seems like a normal thing someone would talk about in their day, and Caroline does not seem jealous about Alex's opportunity. It seems like a lot of other times when people bring up opportunities in this show, people seem very jealous. I understand the feeling of jealousy, but I feel like a lot of the people in this play handle it in an immature way, which I think is why it is great to have this scene right at the beginning. It also makes the stakes in the play seem higher because there are friendships you care about right from the start.
This show had some really great Chicago theater inside jokes. If you know a lot of names of theater companies in Chicago, you will have probably noticed that a lot of names of theater companies have red in them. A Red Orchid, Redtwist, Red Tape, Red Theater, Redmoon. And of course this show is about a theater company called Red Bowl. Also Devin was on check avail for a Dick Wolf show throughout a good portion of the Jeffs. Being on check avail for Chicago ______, is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences and a lot of actors in Chicago have been through this experience. They also bring up that the play that wins everything is a really long show and no one really saw it. I'm kind of one to to talk about long shows, having been in a nine hour one, but I found it very funny all the jokes about how long the play was.
People who would like this show are people who like inside Chicago theater jokes, supportive female friendships, and walking Chekhov plays. I think that people should go see this show. It is a lot of fun, and I think that even people outside of the Chicago theatre community will enjoy it too!
Photos: Montana Bruns