The House Theatre of Chicago presents
Wilson Wants It All
At The Chopin Theatre
1543 W. Division
Conceived and Directed by Michael Rohd
Thru March 27th
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes includes a ten minute intermission and fifteen minute delayed start.
It's 2040. The country is a mess. Government regulated pregnancies. States threatening civil war. Leonard DiCaprio is Governor. Americans are in desperate need of Hope! The House Theatre of Chicago presents the world premiere of Wilson Wants It All. The show starts in present day. A prominent Senator and his pregnant wife have been murdered. Amidst the turmoil, the Senator's handler, Wilson, announces the baby, Hope, has survived. Fast forward to the future, Hope is now turning thirty years old. The country has been waiting for Hope to continue her father's legacy. Hope wants out! She meets an identical lookalike, Ruth. Ruth wants in. They decide to secretly swap lives. But the secret is on them. Wilson Wants It All is a futuristic political comedy. It's Primary Colors meets The Truman Show meets The Parent Trap as reported on by CNN Headline News.
With high energy, the talented cast entertains through mass media. Truly an ensemble, six of the actors play multiple parts as reporters, school kids and secret-service-that-double-as-maids type. As one of the main characters, Rebekah Ward-Hays (Hope 1) plays the disgruntled childhood celebrity unable to speak her mind. Leslie Frame (Ruth/Hope 2) is the long suffering woman who believes she was born for greatness. John Henry Roberts (Wilson) is the mastermind puppeteer selling Hope to the world. Carolyn Defrin (Meredith) is a cross between loving mother and patriot. Edgar Miguel Sanchez (Remy) adds a little zany hip-hop as the anti-establishment boyfriend. It's the combination and co0rdination of the human visuals with the technology that is an amusing feat of political intrigue.
Between director and co-writer Michael Rohd and choreographer/movement Tommy Rapley, the pacing shows progression over time in an engaging and innovative manner. In one frenzy sequence, chairs and tables are twirling. People are scurrying. Then for one synchronized moment, four characters simultaneously sit in chairs with heads jerked back to show they are on a plane. Then they rise and go onto another movement. Wow! Another powerful human visual is when Carolyn Defrin (Meredith) and John Henry Roberts (Wilson) age thirty years in less than a minute. All these mimed pieces are enhanced by a great soundtrack composed by Kevin O'Donnell. The use of video (designer Lucas Merino) is also an intriguing tool to show the media's influence. At times, the audience views a video projection of the actor speaking while staring at his back. Fascinating visual!
Wilson Wants It All is co-written by Rohd (story conceiver) and Phillip C. Klapperich. It's a comedic tale of political optimism under duress. The choice of "Hope" as a name seems so perfectly contrived for a political campaign. "Hope 2" adds to the amusement. Some of the best dialogue moments are delivered by a variety of reporter caricatures. Some of the less than desirable discourse is the redundant Hope speech that really doesn't say anything. Or is that a part of the political farce? The story jumps to a climatic fury without true explanation. It's all fluff and fun right before threats of war. Did I miss something? I also doubt any red-head is going to freely pick that red dress to wear. Two of them did? Much like the notion of Governor Leo DiCaprio, it's highly improbable!
All in all, Wilson Wants It All is all you want in a dramedy. It's a fun, high-energy, technology explosion of entertainment. If you want it all, Hope is waiting for you at the Chopin Theatre (both of them!).
A political optimist in his own right, Tom describes the show as "imaginative sci-fi allegory."
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
In the Chopin Theatre district, Pizza Metro, 1707 W. Division is a great choice for quick, cheap, tasty eats. The atmosphere is no frills, small but with delectable baking ambiance. I order a slice with mushrooms and chicken. The thin crust is a mouth melt away. They also serve Italian sparking waters in lemon and orange, a nice alternative to American pop. The bill for two is under $20. Before we head to the future, it's nice to have a bill reminiscent of simpler times in America.
Wilson Wants It All photography courtesy of John Taflan.