“Everything is Illuminated” (Next Theatre): Monumental 2nd Act

“Everything is Illuminated” (Next Theatre):  Monumental 2nd Act

Reviewed by Sara Eisenbaum

In the closing scene of the play the character of Jonathan Safron Foer, in the semblance of a book talk/reading, mentions something akin to ,”atrocities of violence are like a semi colon…or even a comma.” This very grandiose idea was paired with the illumination of many light bulbs on stage that had previously been hidden. It created a moment that was goose bump leaving and for some brow furrowing. To use that statement as a closing number is to wrap up loose ends throughout the play. In many scenes the use of magical realism tied in with the idea of Jonathan having to understand that if he were to be a great writer he would have to realize that his pen would create scenes of atrocious violence in the pursuit of creating a fictitious world that would more closely mirror current society than the 5 o’clock news. One of Safron Foer’s characters at one point literally screams at him to put his ideas out in the world even though it results in her destruction. This can be viewed as the crux of the point that violence (or most any major event) is just a semi colon; in essence that it can be a precursor to something much more whether that be action or further destruction. To see the semi colon at work on the stage was eye opening as individuals are so often in a rush to get to the period of the sentence, the period of the play. It was refreshing to walk away with the ellipses of his thoughts and ideas still fresh at work on rose colored lenses. While there was somewhat of a lull during the first act, the play’s second half can be seen as nothing short of monumental. The silence in the theater at one climactic point was eerie.

In addition the scenery, while rustic, was in some ways very poignant. The sparseness of it added to the overall understanding of one of a series of possible themes: Sometimes when a person goes on a quest into the unknown, what they are looking for is not in the scenery or materialism of life; to journey into the world is to seek to possess oneself fully.

Running Time:  Two hours and ten minutes, includes an intermission

At Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston

Written by Simon Block
From the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Directed by Devon de Mayo

Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm

Sundays at 2pm

Thru April 14th

For more information, visit www.nexttheatre,org

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