Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ada Grey's Top 10 Plays and Top 5 Musicals

I reviewed 120 shows this year. There have been so many great ones, but I'm happy to say these are my top 10 plays and top 5 musicals! There were a lot of creepy, honest, crazy, hilarious, heartbreaking and thought-provoking shows.

Top 10 Plays

At The Table (Broken Nose Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like inside jokes, friend piles, and jumping into lakes out of embarrassment. I have never seen a show that seemed so authentic while exploring so many relevant topics. It makes you really feel like you are at the table. I thought this was an amazing show and I absolutely loved it.

Ideation (Jackalope Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like complex characters, searching for bugs while listening to Moana, and petite scones. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is such a great story and so well acted. It combined humor, reality, and possible dystopian futures. I really loved it.

Men on Boats (American Theater Company)

People who would like this show are people who like naming things after yourself, whiskey mosh pits, and rescue pants. I thought this was a really fun show. I think that literally everyone should see it. I would see it thousands of times if I could. I absolutely loved it. It was hilarious and amazing.

Pass Over (Steppenwolf Theatre Company)

People who would like this show are people who like genuine humor, terrifying truths, and caviahhhr. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is so moving, hilarious, and important. I loved it!

Peerless (First Floor Theater)

People who would like this show are people who like Macbeth references, stylized language, and awkward slow dancing. I think that people should definitely definitely definitely go see this show. It is a really amazing, nerdy, creepy, and hilarious show. I really really loved it.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray (The Runaways Lab Theatre and Pop Magic Productions)

People who would like this show are people who like explorations of hedonism, new-fangled old stories, and lord pronouns. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I've really enjoyed both of the awesome shows I've seen from this company. They are really great at making you care about characters you thought you knew and showing you a new twist on them.

Significant Other
(About Face Theatre and Theater Wit)

People who would like this show are people who like relatable moments, wanting to be a salamander, and looking for towels. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It was such a good story, had great performers, and I loved it.

The Taming of the Shrew
(Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

People who would like this show are people who like new takes on classics, great acting, and bloomers. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I have never seen The Taming of The Shrew like this before, and I really loved it.

Two Mile Hollow (First Floor Theater)

People who would like this show are people who like hilarious parodies, metaphoric motorcycles, and birds. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is such a fun play, but it also has a lot of really good points to make. I loved it!

The Woman in Black (WildClaw Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like rocking chairs, invisible dogs, and being scared by coat racks. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is super fun and creepy and I absolutely loved it.

Top 5 Musicals

Bonnie & Clyde (Kokandy Productions)

People who would like this show are people who like complicated characters, interesting histories, and photo shoots with your guns. I think people should definitely, definitely go see this show. It closes next weekend, so get your tickets while you still can. It has beautiful music, great performances, and I'm obsessed with this musical now.

Jesus Christ Superstar (Paramount Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like retellings of old stories, amazing singing, and hilarious Herods. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a lot of fun to watch and it feels super meaningful. It had great actors and the singing was amazing. I loved it!

Lizzie (Firebrand Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like feminist rock musicals, heart-wrenching songs, and watermelon blood. I think people should definitely definitely definitely go see this show. It has a great score and it is performed beautifully. I loved it!

Trevor (Writers Theatre)

People who would like this show are people who like being weird, Diana Ross, and studying underwear catalogs. I think that people should definitely go see this show. There were so many things I loved about it. It is a such an amazing and unique new musical. I loved it!

The Wiz (Kokandy Productions)

People who would like this show are people who like magic roads, player Tinmen, and wobbly witches. I think this is a amazing show it was so much fun to watch. I absolutely loved it!

Photos: Matthew Freer, Ian McLaren, Evan Hanover

Monday, December 18, 2017

Review of Red Velvet at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Red Velvet. It was by Lolita Chakrabarti and it was directed by Gary Griffin. It was about Ira Aldridge (Dion Johnstone) who was the first African-American actor to play Othello. He was asked by his friend Pierre LaPorte (Greg Matthew Anderson) to take over for Edmund Kean who had played the role for a very long time, but Edmund's son Charles (Michael Hayden) was not too keen on it. The other performers grow fond of Ira, even though at first they were racist and rude. He develops a close relationship with his leading lady who is playing Desdemona, Ellen Tree (Chaon Cross). They help each other become better actors, but the racist critics make the board of the theater question if they should even have a black Othello. It is about injustice, what makes theater beautiful, and conflict in communities. I think this is a heartbreaking but beautiful show.

The scene where Ira and Pierre have an argument about keeping Ira as Othello was really moving because you could see their friendship falling apart. It was also hard to know whose side to be on because Pierre is trying to help Ira and being completely honest about Ira's performance and why he thinks what is happening is happening, but it seems like he might be siding with people who are doing things for racist reasons. But maybe we should be on Ira's side because people are unfairly judging him because of his race and he is actually a talented actor. But then Pierre points out that Ira might have hurt Ellen during a scene, which would be a problem with him staying in the company. This scene makes you consider that maybe Ira wasn't right about everything. Even though people were doing terrible things to him, he was not just a victim; he made mistakes too. This makes him even more of a human character rather than a magical character who saves the theater for a bunch of white people. There is this strip of light down the middle of the stage in this scene and they are arguing only in the strip of light. You keep thinking the argument is over, and then it would begin again. It was beautiful to watch. I liked how this argument didn't make it so that there was just one person who was right and one person who was being terrible.

I really loved the character of Connie (Tiffany Renee Johnson), the backstage servant from Jamaica. I wish we had gotten to know more about her instead having just one scene where she spoke. It took place when she and Ira were the only people in the room. I thought it was really interesting to see her as a person with reactions and opinions. Until this point she seemed to be listening but not reacting; she was doing her job and that was it. In the scene with Ira, Connie seemed confused as to if she should talk to Ira like he was one of the white people, because she was supposed to serve him, or if she could talk to him like a equal. I could see that uncertainty and I think the actor did a great job with Connie's thought process in that scene; it was clear even though she didn't really say anything about it. I think Connie is useful to have in the show because she is there as an ironic presence to show how insensitive the company is. When she is on stage the company make a lot of racist comments, not really taking her into account or thinking of her as an actual presence. It is terrible because you can see she is uncomfortable, but she can't say anything about it.

I think this show had a really cool way of showing us how Shakespearean acting used to be in the nineteenth century and how broad it was and how it changed. I thought it was really cool to see how much Ellen's performance changed after she had talked to Ira and he showed her how acting can be more of a personal experience and not just for the audience and how you should connect with your scene partner to make the audience connect with you. I really loved how she noticed "Wow! This is a much better way to act than the way I've been doing it." I really liked how she took every suggestion he made as a joke at first, even though it seems like such rational things to suggest now.

People who would like this show are people who like backstage servants, fascinating arguments, and rational acting suggestions. I think people should go see this show. It is beautifully done, and I think this is a true story that needs to be known.

Photos: Liz Lauren

Friday, December 15, 2017

Review of Griffin Theatre Company's Violet

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Violet. The book and lyrics were by Brain Crawley and the music was by Jeanine Tesori. It was based on the "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts. It was directed by Scott Weinstein, the music direction was by John Cockerill, and the choreography was by Kasey Alfonso. It was about a woman named Violet (Nicole Laurenzi) and when she was 13 she got hit in the head with an axe and she has a scar. She is going to a preacher (Anthony Kayer) to get it miraculously removed. She meets two men from the military who really influence her, Monty (Will Lidke) and Flick (Stephen Allen). I think this show was performed really well. Everyone in the show has really amazing voices. I think it was an interesting and unique story.

My favorite song in the show was probably "Raise Me Up." The vocals from Lashera Zenise Moore as Lula were so amazing and she just slayed the entire song. The song is all gospel and everyone in the audience was so drawn into it. They were shouting out how amazing she was. So it felt like a concert. The environment was relaxed and open, so that was fun. I also really liked the songs "Anyone Would Do" and "Lonely Stranger" which were very different songs from "Raise Me Up," but also had great vocals from Brianna Buckley, Sarah Hayes, and Moore. Both of them were very sultry songs about how lonely these women were. None of the other characters paid attention to them while they were singing, which gave it sort of a dark undertone and made them seem more alone. Flick and Violet sang a song together called "Hard To Say Goodbye." They both sounded amazing and the song was heartbreaking. It was sad to hear them say goodbye because you know now is not the right time to say goodbye because they are so angry. It is passive aggressive, the way he is saying it isn't hard to say goodbye, because you can tell it actually is hard.

There were two songs that were centered on the family: "Luck of the Draw" and "On My Way." One was about getting closer to your family and one was about getting away from your family. In "Luck of the Draw" Young Violet (Maya Lou Hlava) learns how to play cards from her father (Matt W. Miles). It is a really cute scene; it is really adorable to see this bonding moment to show how close Violet and her father used to be. At first, he doesn't explain the game very well so that he wins all the time, but eventually she gets the hang of it. Violet is also on stage playing cards with Monty and Flick which shows how much she has learned over the years and is an interesting image. "On My Way" is all about how Violet can't wait to get away and go to a new place that she thinks will solve all her problems. It was also sung by all the rest of the people on the bus who all had the same mission to get away from something. I loved how they use every single voice in this song to sum up what the goal of Violet's story is: to get away and become a new person before she comes back.

There were some choices they made in the show that I found troubling or distracting. They didn't show the scar, which made me keep looking for it, and then when I couldn't find it, I kept looking which distracted me from the story. I know the Broadway production also made this choice, but I still found it strange. It made me think she could be crazy. It seems like they don't trust the audience enough to see the scar and still like the character, which is what all the good people in the show do. I feel like they should have trusted their audience more. I was also troubled by how she didn't want to just take away her scar but change her entire face, which I didn't think was necessary. She was naturally very beautiful. They also seemed to put Flick in the story as this character who is sort of a replacement for a relationship that has just ended for Violet. I think he deserves better than someone who treats him like a rebound. I also don't think it is fair that he has to teach her how to be a better person in relationships and how not to be racist.

People who would like this show are people who like card games with your dad, sultry songs, and passive-aggressive goodbyes. I think that people should go see this show. I think it has such amazing actors and great songs. I liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review of Red Theater Chicago's Little Red Cyrano

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Little Red Cyrano. It was by Aaron Sawyer and it was directed by Michael J. Stark and Aaron Sawyer. It was about a man named Cyrano (Benjamin Ponce) who fell in love with Little Red Riding Hood (Dari Simone), but she was in love with a man named Christian (Dave Honigman) who was not very poetic, but he wanted to gain the heart of Little Red, so he asked Cyrano to write for him. And Cyrano complied. This is a mashup of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood and Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. It is about love, poetry, and when being courteous has gone too far. I think this is a really fun show. It had some cool audience participation and I liked the use of sign language in it.

I don't really understand why this couldn't have been just an adaptation of Cyrano with the same cast. At first I thought they were trying to make it accessible to kids but putting in a character they already knew, but that didn't make a lot of sense to me either. Why couldn't kids be interested in a show with characters they weren't already familiar with? I enjoyed Red's performance a lot, but I thought she could have played Roxane very well as well. The story of Cyrano is already adaptable to a story with sign language. It is all about poetry and words, and using words in sign language is a different way to show the poetry and is beautiful to watch. Adding Little Red Riding Hood didn't make a lot of sense to me because she didn't need to be Red Riding Hood for the story to make sense. I didn't feel like these stories had enough in common to justify putting them into a mash up.

I was rooting for Cyrano and Little Red's relationship. It was pretty hard to take when she kept not realizing how much Cyrano loved her. But I liked the reciprocity of their relationship and it seemed really healthy except she didn't understand the depth of Cyrano's feelings. They seemed to talk to each other and respect each other. In Cyrano it is a little harder to decide whether Cyrano and Roxane together is better than Christian and Roxane together. But in this version, it was pretty obvious who you should be rooting for because Christian seemed like such a jerk. In the play Cyrano, Christian seemed like a sweet guy who didn't know how to express himself. But here he seemed like a selfish, self-obsessed guy who didn't realize how much Cyrano was helping him and took him for granted. And he ends up being the villain of the story too. It makes the story a lot less complicated; there's a clear decision you make at the start of the show, which is that Christian is a terrible person for Little Red, and it doesn't really change through the play.

I thought it was really cool how the actors asked the audience to sign and to be part of some of the scenes. One time they asked you to be trees. Sometimes people asked you to hold on to a letter that they had signed, as if it were a paper letter. They would make the sign for a letter, like a or g, and then they would give you the invisible letter, have you make the sign and hold on to it for later. I also really liked a lot of the performances. I really loved Cyrano; he made the character really lovable and you wanted the best for him, but you could still see the character's mistakes. I felt like his signing was very poetic and he really took time with each word and it was really beautiful to watch. Raganeau (Stark) was a baker whose wife, Lise (Christopher Paul Mueller), leaves him because he has not been charging soldiers pretending to be poets for their food. I found their relationship kind of sad but hilarious. She was like, "I wanted to go to Paris and we can't because you won't make these people pay. So bye." I thought Raganeau was able to convey a lot of emotion even without spoken words, and even if you didn't understand sign language you could understand his story. I also loved the woodsman character (Mueller). He had this moose hat and no one knew for a while that it was not a hat but that he was really growing antlers. It was really funny to see him try and explain that.

People who would like this show are people who like signed poetry, tragic love stories, and mysterious moose hats. I think that people should go see this shows. It uses sign language in such a beautiful way and I think a lot of the performers did an amazing job.

Photos: M. Freer Photography

Friday, December 8, 2017

Review of Remy Bumppo's Puff: Believe It Or Not

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Puff: Believe It Or Not. It was by Eugène Scribe and translated by Ranjit Bolt. It was directed by Nick Sandys. It was about a man named Albert (Joshua Moaney) who had come back from military service in Algeria. He was in love with his friend Maxence's (Gregory Geffrard) sister Antonia (Netta Walker). But her brother wanted her to be married to someone rich, so he arranged for her to be married to the Comte de Marignan (Christopher Sheard). But Antonia's friend Corrine (Kelsey Brennan), the daughter of of Cesar Degaudets (David Darlow) who people think is one of the richest men in the country, wanted to marry the count herself. Everyone, except Albert, starts lying to everyone else about their money, their writing, and their affections. I love a good farce, and this play really delivered that. It also has a very good point, which is that one of the problems with society is that lying is considered acceptable and even necessary for power and stature. I thought this was a really fun show. I love these kind of plays, and I had never heard of this one before, but I really enjoyed it.

The romantic tension between Albert and Antonia was so hilarious. Literally, they could not look at each other without looking they were having an aneurysm. It was so funny to see them back away from each other, look at each other longingly, realize they were looking at each other longingly, look away embarrassed, then have to look again. It was really adorable because it is very relatable for a lot of people--if their crushes like them back. They both seem to have standards that they want to meet for each other, but they would give each other up just so they can be worthy of each other. I think they are two really good eggs who aren't willing to lie for anything, which shows they are a good match for each other. Nobility isn't always the right choice, though, because sometimes the noble choice isn't good for anyone. The count, on the other hand, ends up doing something noble, even though he just thinks he is pretending to do something noble. I think the writer does think you should lie sometimes when it is needed, but he is still critiquing some of the lies people tell.

The other relationship in this show is a revenge relationship. The count had sent very romantic lying letters to Corinne, so that she wouldn't write nasty things about him in the newspaper, but then when she finds out the letters are lies, she begins to plot her revenge: marrying him (thunder). I think it is pretty hilarious because it is not what you are expecting someone's revenge to be. It's funny to see her try to seduce him in all these various ways and him not paying attention to her. It might be sad, except she doesn't seem to care. She wants to marry him in spite of himself. She is also writing these memoirs which are highly exaggerated and very funny. This ends up being a really big plot point, which I think is a really great way to tie together the story.

The set (by Joe Schermoly) and costumes (by Rachel Lambert) really contribute a lot to the humor in the show. When the lights come up in the beginning of act two, you see that the set is now all velvet, zebra print, and gold. Everything in the second act is a thousand times bigger and weirder and crazier. The zebra print and gold set your expectations for the rest of the play. And when Corinne comes in with see-through pants and a tiara you're just like "Yep. This play has officially gone insane, and I am loving it."

People who would like this show are people who like love aneurysms, marriage revenge, and see-through pants. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is a smart farce with hilarious and great performances. I loved it!

Photos: Nathanael Filbert

Review of Elf The Musical at Paramount Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Elf The Musical. The book was by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and the music was by Matthew Sklar and the lyrics were by Chad Beguelin. It was based on the film written by David Berenbaum. It was directed and choreographed by Amber Mak. The musical director was Tom Vendafreddo. It was about an elf named Buddy (Kyle Adams) who found out he wasn't really an elf and left the North Pole to go find his father, Walter Hobbs (Michael Accardo), in New York. He finds out that his dad is a big time businessman with a wife, Emily (Lara Filip), and son, Michael (Oliver Boomer), and not at all like him. He meets a woman, Jovie (Samantha Pauly), at his job working at Macy's and tries to get her into the Christmas spirit. I thought this was a super fun show. It has a very talented cast, great music, and some great visual aspects.

I loved the relationship between Buddy and Jovie. It was great how you got to see Jovie become more of a happy person. "A Christmas Song" is the perfect representation of how their relationship is. He convinces her to do something she's never done before, and she eventually complies. But...before that she's cranky. It is nice to have a play where it is not a girl trying to change a grouchy guy, but a guy trying to change a cranky girl. I really liked how it wasn't about a woman having to do all the work so a guy can be a better person. I thought this was a really great Buddy; he was so perfect at making everyone in the theater feel really happy and in the Christmas spirit and he made his scenes so hilarious. Jovie was also really amazing and was perfectly sarcastic and right for the role. I loved her solo, "Never Fall in Love." It was really funny because she was saying, "Never fall in love...especially with an elf," which is a very specific instruction which only applies to the very few people who meet elves. And it was just a really funny song sung really well. Both Jovie and Buddy had amazing voices.

"There is a Santa Claus" was a song sung by Emily and Michael about how they realized that Buddy had been right all along about Santa Claus (Roger Mueller) being real. I thought their performances were really great. You could really see the connection between those two characters. It was adorable to see them bonding and see a scene with just them in it. The harmony at the end of the song was amazing; their voices worked perfectly together. And I really believed their relationship. I really liked how the actor who played Michael just played the part with the skill of an adult actor and avoided making it cutesy. He knew how his voice worked and he had good control over it. I was impressed. I loved how the actor playing Emily seemed like an actual mother and not a mother in a musical.

The finale was really stunning. I love tap and I thought the tap number in this was really great. I loved how they got basically the entire cast tapping. It was so much fun to watch everyone dancing together and having fun on stage. There is a really cool special effect involving Santa that was really fun. They had a kid chorus (Grier Burke, Sophie Kaegi, Harmonie Kalous, Tova Love Kaplan, Spencer Moss, Theo Moss) that got tap solos and I thought that was really adorable.

People who would like this show are people who like finding out Santa is real, awesome tap numbers, and romantic relationships with elves. I think people should go see this show. It is so much fun and really gets you in the holiday spirit. I really liked it!

Photos: Liz Lauren

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review of Q Brothers Christmas Carol At Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Q Brothers Christmas Carol. It was written by Q Brothers Collective (GQ, JQ, JAX, and POS) with music by JQ. It was directed by GQ and JQ. It was about a man named Scrooge (GQ) who was a crotchety old man who was mean to everyone but gets visited by his old business partner Marley (JQ) who sends him three other spirits, the ghosts of Christmas past (Postell Pringle), present (JQ), and future (Jackson Doran, Pringle, and JQ). And, spoiler alert, he has a change of heart. I've seen several other adaptions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and I think this was a great new take on it. It is more of a contemporary city version of the story that a lot of people can probably relate to. It seems to take place in a city like Chicago, and I think the music was really good. It got across all the main plot points of the book and also made them hilarious. I think this is such a fun show. I really loved this new take on a Christmas classic.

There were so many funny moments in this play. I loved how Marley's hell was having to only speak in Reggae music. It was so funny how it seemed like he might actually be enjoying the dancing and the singing, because he was giving it his all, but he kept saying how much this was the worst thing in the world for him. You also weren't expecting for Jacob Marley to appear like Bob Marley with dreadlocks and backup dancers, but that made it even funnier. I also really loved the song that Scrooge sang when he first met his girlfriend Belle (JQ). It was all about math and was strangely suggestive. It was hilarious how they combined a Marvin-Gaye-let's-get-it-on-type song with math. I think the moment that I laughed the most was when the actor playing Bob Cratchit (Pringle) was also playing Martha, his daughter. He would just smell the corn on the stove at strange moments to cover that he was talking in Martha's voice when she was offstage. Then he would go offstage and come back on as Martha, who would talk in the corn again, but in her dad's voice. It is such an unnatural thing for someone to do, just randomly smell corn, that it made it more hilarious.

All the performers were really excellent rappers. Every time you turned around, Lil' Tim (JQ) had a new disease; it was really funny how when anyone would say "Aw" he would add something like, "I also have rabies." He would say it sadly like it was a new discovery. And then his entire family would sort of back away a little bit. It is pretty funny seeing a grown man acting like a ten year old doing really good rapping. Also he would dance with his crutch and he could actually do some impressive things. I guess when you can't leave the house because you have been contaminated with every disease known to humanity, you have a lot of spare time to work on busting a move with your busted leg. Scrooge did a song right after he had a change of heart where he went and apologized to everyone and tried to make amends while doing this very awkward and amazing jumping dance. When Scrooge was happy, he apparently had no boundaries, and he just popped up in the bedroom of his nephew Fred (Doran) and his boyfriend (Pringle), and rapped LET'S PLAY CHARADES!!! and did his hopping dance while he did this. And then, for the final song, the whole group sang a song that reminded me of TLC, and I really liked that. The Ghost of Christmas Past reminded me of The Sugar Hill Gang--very old school, very smooth. It was very clever to put an old school rapper as the Ghost of Christmas Past. He did a great job reflecting the styles of old school rappers, which I really liked.

I think this is a great show to bring the whole family to. It has a lot of things that kids will appreciate and are interested in, but it is also true to the Dickens story. The book and the play have the same moral, which is that you should give and forgive and that Christmas should bring people together. It is also about helping people who are not as fortunate as you, and that is a good lesson for the president and all the people that helped to create that stupid tax bill. Unfortunately, the whole Pence at Hamilton ordeal makes me think they wouldn't take too kindly to this play. If they could accept it for what it is, they might have a change of heart, just like Scrooge!

People who would like this show are people who like the Christmas spirit, busting a move with a busted leg, and smelling corn excessively. I think that people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is so much fun and a great thing to bring the whole family to.

Photos: Liz Lauren

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review of The Minutes at Steppenwolf

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Minutes. It was by Tracy Letts and it was directed by Anna D. Shapiro. It was about a man named Mr. Peel (Cliff Chamberlain) who has just come back from his mother's funeral and it is his first day back at the city council. Everyone is being secretive about the last meeting, the minutes have not been released, and Mr. Carp (Ian Barford) is missing. And so Mr. Peel has to find out what is happening, and he discovers some dark secrets about the town. It is about exclusion, political corruption, and the need for the truth. I think this is a very intriguing play. The plot was really engrossing. This doesn't sound like a play that would be a comedy, but it is actually very funny. It was a really cool experience to see politics through this lens.

There were a lot of funny moments. One of my favorites was when Mr. Blake (James Vincent Meredith) decided that it would be great to have a cage match with Abraham Lincoln as a new festival tradition called "Lincoln Smackdown." Which might be one of the weirdest ideas I've ever heard. And to hear him give his pitch was just hilarious because he thinks it is going to make the city lots of money. He doesn't seem to know why anyone wouldn't think it was the best idea in the world. It was really hilarious to see him try to defend his idea of letting people punch Lincoln in the face. Mr. Oldfield (Frances Guinan) really really wanted Mr. Carp's parking space and he was basically complaining about how he had been on the council the longest and didn't have a close parking space. It is funny because he is just really obsessed with getting this parking space and you'd think he could let it go for a minute. Ms. Matz is funny because she is so clueless and doesn't really understand how the government works and can't seem to stay engaged or pay attention for more than thirty seconds--unless she's performing in a historical pageant. The entire council starting doing this pageant for Mr. Peel, so he could understand the history of Big Cherry better. It was really funny because they gave it completely their all and were performing this story like they were on Broadway, but all the council members were doing a really bad job. It was also just funny to see council members doing theater. And Mr. Oldfield doing foley by tapping on his Tupperware and whistling was hilarious. The girl (played by Ms. Matz) who had been kidnapped in this story was called Little Debbie, and they said she became very rich in the future, and I was wondering if it was because her of Swiss Cake Rolls. But instead it is because of genocide.

(SPOILER ALERT: I'm trying to be vague enough so I can make a point, but the rest of this review might give some things away.) A lot of the funny moments, you realize later, have a dark side to them. In the pageant, the story they were telling was not 100 percent true. It is later revealed that the person who was thought of as a hero actually turned out to be a racist, terrible person that didn't even do any of the noble things the legend said he did. And you see how the town is built on lies and the suffering of others. I also realized that Ms. Matz wasn't just spaced out all the time; she might have acted that way because of her medication. And my hypothesis is that she is taking the pills so she can forget about the terrible thing she is doing. And Mr. Oldfield's obsession with parking seems like he is trying to take the place of someone who is gone, which is already creepy, but then all of a sudden the group is doing terrible things, but all he can think about is the parking. He isn't fazed by the terrible things. And even though Lincoln Smackdown seems like a hilariously terrible idea, there is still a dark side to it. It seems like Mr. Blake is trying to fit in with all the racist white people in the town. But later you understand that he is probably terrified of what might happen to him and his family.

Mr. Hanratty (Danny McCarthy), Ms. Johnson (Brittany Burch), and Mr. Carp all have moments of redemption, where you think they have become better people. The first good deed that you see is from Mr. Hanratty who wants to build a accessible fountain for people in wheelchairs. He is interested in this because his sister is in a wheelchair. It is sort of an intersection between doing a good thing for the world and doing something self-interested because it is his sister that he is thinking about. But even if it was just because his sister was in a wheelchair, it still would have been a good thing for the world to have, except that what was on the fountain didn't really deserve a memorial. Ms. Johnson ends up revealing the minutes because she knows it is the right things to do, but she ends up being too scared for her family to finish what she started and still continuing on the darker path. Mr. Carp you don't get to see a lot of, but you know he used to be as bad as everyone else until he realized something. He does something good with his realization: he decides to speak up even though it is dangerous. I think the playwright is trying to make a point about what motivates us--that is family, fear, comfort, and justice. They are not always good motivations, but sometimes they might have a good outcome. And sometimes good motivations can have a bad outcome. A lot of people would do anything for their family, but to oppress other people so your family can have a nicer house is a cruel idea.

People who would like this show are people who like Little Debbie, Lincoln Smackdown, and Tupperware foley. I think people should definitely go see this show. It is such an intriguing show and it really made me think a lot. It is very funny but disturbing. I really liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow