Theatre Bob from Chicago Theatre Addict told me once buying a theatre ticket released him from the obligation of reviewing a show. This informal understanding made sense to me. As bloggers, we Talk About Theatre: Press Pass. As paying customers, we maintain an anonymity and professional distance. It’s like a coffee break on the job. We get to talk about what we want. I’ve decided to Talk About Josh: $10 Ticket.
Danielle Stack, in conjunction with Gorilla Tango Theatre, presents TALK ABOUT GOD: FIVE CENTS. In a mall, a temporary tent has been set up. The sign says ‘Talk About God: Five Cents.‘ Curious people wander into the area. Some want answers. Some want forgiveness. Some want change. It’s an ongoing line of truth seekers. Playwright Tom Noe has written a series of monologues. Noe creates an eclectic group of individuals in search of a nickel’s worth of divine intervention. The you-can-buy-anything-at-the-mall concept is a light-hearted premise for inspiration and humor. TALK ABOUT GOD: FIVE CENTS is worth the price of admission.
I went to see this show because Joshua Volkers is in it. He is one of my best friends and also my business partner on Chicago Theatre Off Book on CHIRP. Yes, I’m a little bias. I love seeing Josh on the stage. But there is also a certain preconception that I arrived at the show with. Often times on Josh’s projects, I’ve read the script and heard about the process. For TALK ABOUT GOD: FIVE CENTS, I had scrutinized the script. Josh’s part is two lengthy monologues: one at the beginning and one at the end. I also knew during November, we had recorded three radio shows and Josh was understudying two roles for Remy Bumppo’s production of “Changes of Heart.” My complete focus was a hope that he remembered all his lines. My expectation was set on low. And I was blown away.
Josh is the powerful bookends to this “Chicken Soup for The Soul” type audio-visual narration. Under the direction of Danielle Stack, his performance is organic. In the first oration, he’s forcefully questioning God’s presence in his life. He effectively uses a dramatic flair to make the point and hit the punchline. Later, he reappears as a distinctly different guy. Tender and soft-spoken, Josh theorizes that the birth of his daughter proves the existence of God. He lovingly describes how miraculous his daughter makes him feel. I’m so engaged in what he’s saying and the way he’s saying it, I momentarily forget that he doesn’t have a daughter (in real life). For me, theatre is at its best when the illusion becomes reality. When I no longer see the actor acting or the friend trying, the play becomes real to me. I briefly saw Josh at the curtain call. During the show, I met two guys that looked like him.
There are a lot of interesting people in this play. The cast displays a broad range of belief and intensity. The only issue I had with the show was the pacing. Not quite sluggish, more like awkwardly hesitant. In between personal snippets, there are brief music interludes. The audience is watching the curtain in who-is-next? anticipation. Stack lets the sporadic lulls linger too long. It feels clunky in this otherwise amusing sequence of contemplations. TALK ABOUT GOD: FIVE CENTS provides a reflective pause during this commercial shopping season. If you go, tell Josh I said, ‘well done!’
Running Time: Sixty minutes with no intermission.
At Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee
Written by Tom Noe
Directed by Danielle Stack
December 5th, 12th, 19th at 8pm
Buy Tickets at www.gorillatango.com