Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review of The Crownless King at The House Theatre of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Crownless King. It was written by Nathan Allen and Chris Mathews and directed by Nathan Allen. It was about a boy named Casper (Brandon Ruiter) who has a hammer, which represents power and strength, and he makes a bunch of hard decisions of what to do with the hammer to help the people that he knows. The main idea is that he has two women that he loves and two places to protect and one giant hammer that is like 7,500 hammers in weight. This show is funny, scary, and intense. There is no part of the story where you are trailing off; you just have to keep watching the show because it is very captivating.

I really liked the part where Wilke (Morgan Maher) was drunk. It is not that I think seeing lots of people drunk is funny; it is that I think the lines are hilarious. There was this line that I thought was really great which was said by Hollow Tom (John Henry Roberts). Wilke said, "Do you cook?" and Hollow Tom said, "Do you like beans?" And then Wilke said, "No." And then Hollow Tom said, "Then, no." That was really funny because all this person cooked was beans and nothing else. I also really liked when Abraham (Christopher M. Walsh) said to Wilke, "Are you done?" and Wilke was kind of squeaking "For the moment." Wilke's a tough Viking, but he's not acting like a tough Viking; he's acting more like somebody who is absolutely not a Viking.

Last year I thought Irek Obsidian (Tracy Letts), the dragon, was really awesome but this year I think he looks even awesome-r because--well, that's a secret for now. I want you to see him yourself. I thought that the gun that Ben Hertel used was really funny. It wasn't like a small little handgun. It was a giant enormous machine gun and it was really funny because he started bouncing up and down like really fast, and then he was like shooting at the other people. It was really funny because it came out of nowhere and he just kept shooting shooting shooting. I really liked the bird puppets (designed by Rachel Watson). They were really interesting because the were puppets but they looked like robots.

There were a bunch of scenes that I really liked where Abraham was being really funny. He had a lot of scenes where he was being hilarious, so I'll just tell you about a few of them. I really liked the part where Casper was giving his big speech and Abraham said, "I really liked the part where you raised the hammer," which means, "I didn't hear anything else that you said, but you raised the hammer." He didn't hear it because he had a hearing trumpet and it wasn't out during it so he didn't hear it. I thought it was really funny when Abraham came out and he pointed to Zeke, who was in the audience who played Abraham last year, and said, "You look familiar!
I thought that it really gave the plot a good drama to have romantic conflict between July (Kay Kron) and Rienne (Paige Collins) because they both like Casper. I think Rienne had to love Casper a little bit because there was a whole romantic kind of flirty scene. But she also cares about Wilke like Casper cares about July but also cares about Rienne. Like he cares about both of their safeties, but he also cares about his entire kingdom's safety. So it is hard to choose between his girlfriends and his kingdom because he loves both of them.

There are four storytellers now, even though in The Iron Stag King there were only three. The three were July of the Seven Foxes, Irek Obsidian, and Hap the Golden (Cliff Chamberlain). But this time Casper is a new storyteller. I think that because he is kind of like a storyteller in training because he doesn't know all the spells or anything but he does know that he can tell his own story. He doesn't need to be told by another storyteller. I think that that is cool because you weren't exactly expecting him to want to be a storyteller, because he hates the storytellers. But he wants everyone to be their own storyteller. He wants to tell other people's stories but he doesn't want to be the only person who can tell those stories.

The villain in this story was Davy Boone (Blake Montgomery). He was kind of the villain because the main character is against him. But he is not the villain because he kind of has a better idea of what he should be doing in this battle. He thinks he should be fighting for his people, not having people fight for him. He is not exactly smart, but he is not exactly dumb. He has the right ideas, but he doesn't really have the right ideas to win. He has the right ideas to protect his people from getting killed for the moment, but I don't think it is exactly the smartest idea to just bring yourself and a few other people you know on the journey instead of bringing an army.

Olympia (Brenda Barrie) is a new character. She was not in the first one. She is the new Lady of the Grass. I think that she is kind of a bad person but she is also kind of a good person. Like she does hurt Hollow Thom, but it is for a bunch of people's good. She used to be a playful young girl, but then she turned serious. There is this scene where they talk about a toad that was put in her bed. She reacts very little-girly, like, "Ah! There's a toad in my bed!" But then she throws it into the fire. And that is just a girl who gets things done, not a girl who screams because there is a toad in her bed. When she's talking to Hollow Thom she is behaving like a girl who gets things done but also a girl who wants information. She's acting like she's throwing the toad in the fire. I think she didn't really want to whip Hollow Thom because she feels like maybe even though he killed a bunch of her relatives he's changed a lot.

People who would like this show are people who like dragons, storytellers, hammers, and ear trumpets. People should go see this show because it is intense, lovely, and fun. If you haven't seen the first one in the trilogy, there are going to be readings of it on September 15 and 21st, but you don't have to see The Iron Stag King to understand The Crownless King.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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