Theater Wit presents
At 1229 W. Belmont
Written by Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru March 27th
Running Time: One hour and forty-five minutes with no intermission.
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
I loved THIS!
'What kind of unhappy are you? Personal, marriage, career, existentialist, or inter-disciplinary?' Theater Wit presents the Chicago premiere of THIS. College friends face middle age with humorous chagrin. Jane is a widow stuck in poetic limbo. Marrell is singing sleep-deprived new mommy blues. Alan is an outrageous and bored mnemonic (photographic memory).Tom is perpetually unhappy... 'that's his shtick.' Jean-Pierre is a foreign outside observer. Everybody is looking at their dinky life wishing for an escape hatch. What is THIS? A witty intermission during the stages of life.
Playwright Melissa James Gibson has created a story with authentic characters musing about ruts. Her organic conversations are spiked with punch lines. Under the direction of Jeremy Wechsler, overlapping dialogue and a comfortable familiarity make it even more plausible and enjoyable! The cast bonds with an established chemistry that transcends decades of friendship. They tease with a regularity befitting best buds. 'When are the unattractive and unlikable people going to get a break?' Mitchell Fain (Alan) is hysterical! Fain ignites every potentially funny nuance for a laughter explosion. Nobody could play bitter better than Fain! Rebecca Spence (Jane) delivers a complicated depiction of the-girl-next-door-turned-widow. Spence loses it in a heart-wrenching scene. Her intensity gathers in my throat like a silent sob but then Fain's tiny prissy gesture elicits a chuckle. (My sob-chuckle combo sounds like a muffled gurgled burp.) As a friend and singer, Lily Mojekwu (Marrell) is playfully sassy and confident. As a wife, Mojekwu shortcuts to shrew. The target of her disappointment is John Byrnes (Tom). Byrnes' character seems the least developed and likable so it's easy to take the wife's side. Steve Hadnagy (Jean-Pierre) has the French allure, accent and aloofness down... pure ooh-la-la!
Wechsler pivots the action on a make-shift revolving stage by Scenic Designer Roger Wykes. A movable wall transports from one house to another and effectively showcases a doorway encounter... a threshold to a major decision.
What is THIS? THIS is real! THIS is friendship! THIS is life... but with wittier dialogue! I love THIS!
Sitting in this, M-Vo describes the show with 'entertaining, engaging, endearing.'
Production photography courtesy of Johnny Knight.