Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review of End Days at Windy City Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called End Days. It was by Deborah Zoe Laufer and it was directed by Henry Godinez. It was about this family who lived in this house and the mother Sylvia (Tina Gluschenko) was very religious and she thought the end of the world was coming. Arthur (Keith Kupferer) and Rachel (Sari Sanchez), the father and daughter, did not believe that the end of the world was coming soon. The daughter became friends with this boy Nelson (Stephen Cefalu Jr.) who had a crush on her at her school. And they had like this party where they were waiting for the end of the world but since three of them did not believe it, they were not taking it seriously. And the mother was yelling at them to pray, but the thing is, I think that if the world is ending you should just have the time of your life. I think that this was an awesome new play and I think this was a great production. It was very strange but then it made a lot of sense too. Like there was a guy (Steven Strafford) who played both Jesus and Stephen Hawking. There are not many things that could be weirder than that. But then Jesus and Stephen Hawking are both very popular people in the world so it was great to see them in a different context.

When you walk in, you look up at the ceiling and you see a bunch of things you would find in an office and a bunch of toys. And it looks like an office and kid's playhouse has been blown up because the father used to work in one of the twin towers. The set (by Brian Sidney Bembridge) shows you all the disorder and the destruction that has happened to the family. But it didn't look burnt; it looked like it was all up in the air. And even though they had moved in awhile earlier, they hadn't unpacked everything, so there might have been toys and computers just floating around the house. The set wasn't only the house. It was also a cafeteria and there was also a wall behind it and a swing for some of the scenes that happened outside.

I really liked the scenes with Stephen Hawking, but it felt kind of wrong to laugh at a person in a wheelchair with a funny voice. It would be okay if they told a funny joke. Like when he said "bummer," that was funny because number 1, he was a famous scientist and he would probably not say anything like "bummer." I did find that funny, but then I still found it slightly sad because I was afraid that people were laughing just because he was in a wheelchair and had a computer's voice. I found some of the wheelchair stuff slightly uncomfortable for me because, when he was swinging back and forth next to Rachel on the swing, people were laughing but of course he can't just get out of his chair and swing with her, so that makes it pretty sad too, to see this man wanting to do stuff with one of his fans but he can't. I don't think it is bad that they laughed because it can also be funny and it wasn't really Stephen Hawking. It was just in Rachel's mind. And Jesus is probably also just in Sylvia's mind, but then he could actually be there, depending on what kind of show you think this is. I think it is not a religious show about how Jesus is always there. I think it is saying that Sylvia thinks Jesus will be staying around with her. And then she will go to heaven but she doesn't know about the rest of her family. And I think the show is sympathetic with her because she doesn't know what to do and it is hard on her to believe that her family doesn't feel like any of this stuff is going to happen.

The family also includes Nelson, who has a crush on the daughter. Both of his parents are dead and now he is living with his stepmother. So he is having a pretty hard life and his crush's family is kind of his family too. He falls in love with the smartest girl in the class and they learn to like each other. Each day he wears an Elvis suit because his mother made him one when he was a little kid. The Elvis suit makes him feel more secure and like his mother is still around. I find it very heartwarming that he would still wear this outfit even though his mother has been gone for so long. But he doesn't want everyone to help him, he just wants to have a good time and not have everyone look at him like he's a weirdo. He's adorable and he is the romantic person, but he doesn't turn into a prince when you kiss him. He brings the entire family back together. The father used to be depressed and once Nelson came around and they went shopping for all kinds of cereal, he feels better. Rachel used to be super uninclusive and didn't like to talk to anyone, and then she learned all the cool facts about the universe when Nelson gives her Stephen Hawking's book and she fell in love with Nelson and he made her happy. And the mom learns to be open to whatever from Nelson because he can be in both religions and he loved science. He's like an angel in disguise, but he got something in return. He got a family.

People who would like this show are people who like ceilings covered with stuff, Stephen Hawking, and really cute Elvises. I think people should definitely go see this show because it is funny, heartwarming, and you get to know a lot about different kinds of beliefs. I loved this show!

Photos: Justin Barbin


Unknown said...

This was very insightful. Thank you! We appreciate your commentary. Can you review all of the shows at windy city playhouse?
Best, Amy Rubenstein

Unknown said...

Ada. I wrote the play and am really thrilled that you saw it, and liked it, and wrote about it so thoughtfully and generously. I wish everyone who reviewed plays came with such an open heart. Thank you -- you made my day!

Sarah said...

Dear Ada, I played Rachel in the play you saw and I just wanted to thank you for coming and giving such a thoughtful review. You are so smart. I hope to meet you soon :)

Steven Strafford said...

Dear Ada,

I played Jesus and Stephen Hawking in the play. I truly appreciated your conflicted feelings about the comedy involving Stephen Hawking. Although I can't guarantee why people laugh, I can guarantee that I made the choice for the "swing moment" out of the belief that Stephen would want to join Rachel in that moment of fun. So glad you came to the show and gave us such a thoughtful review!