This show is all about clock watching. And it only took me five minutes to be completely smitten with the Fail family.
Victory Gardens presents the World premiere of FAILURE: A LOVE STORY. Gertie, Jenny June and Nellie are the Fail sisters. They live above the family clock shop on the Chicago River. They each died in the year 1928 from a blunt object, disappearance or consumption… in that order. This is their story. It’s about love. The love they shared as sisters, as daughters, as fiancés. FAILURE: A LOVE STORY enchants as a keepsake timepiece.
Playwright Philip Dawkins has penned a whimsical fable. In the program, Dawkins reports being inspired by a cemetery headstone with *FAIL* on it. From that experience, he resurrected the Fail family in true “Royal Tenenbaum” style. His absurd characters are lovable eccentrics. The family, including household pets, takes turns narrating the introspective retrospective. I loved the dialogue and want a copy of the script. Some of Dawkins’ word choices were exceptionally funny and profound at the same time. Dawkins approaches death with a quiet strength and gentle humor. I just loved this story, Philip!
Under the masterful direction of Seth Bockley, this cast is sublime: Baize Buzan, Matt Fletcher, Emjoy Gavino, Mildred Marie Langford, Guy Massey, Michael Salinas, and Janet Ulrich Brooks. They are equally outstanding at zinging the one-liners and plucking at the heartstrings. This show is all about unplanned, life-changing moments. This cast showcases a lifetime of minutes with instantaneous playfulness and loving, lingering depth Buzan, Langford, Massey and Brooks hilariously morph into animals. Gavino sings and swims with fearless moxie. Fletcher and Salinas unexpectedly bond with a tender-hearted bromance. Bockley has orchestrated clock-stopping magic with this cast.
Bringing the Roaring Twenties flair, Costume Designer Emily Tarleton creates spectacular fashion statements. The sisters have distinct vintage styles that reflect their personalities. Two exquisite and gawk-worthy green hats transform the actors into birds. And Brook’s polka-dots are amusingly exposed… a few times! Tarleton creates a vibrant visual for the Fail’s fanciful world. There is a lot to love in this show and I fell hard for it!
FAILURE: A LOVE STORY is definitely in my top ten favorite shows of the 230 plays that I saw so far this year. See it before time runs out!
Running Time: One hour and fifty minutes with no intermission
At Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln
Written by Philip Dawkins
Directed by Seth Bockley
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 30th
Buy Tickets at www.victorygardens.org
Production photograph courtesy of Michael Brosilow