"Fedra" Theatre Review: Not Feeling The Love!


Lookingglass Theatre

Chicago, Illinois

October 14, 2009

She loves him but he loves somebody else. She just can’t win! Oh My Afrodite, love stinks! Based on the Greek mythology Phredra, Fedra is set in future Haiti. The queen, Fedra is in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. After her husband, Thesus, is assumed killed in a plane crash, Fedra hits on Hippo. Hippo rejects the pass because Fedra’s timing is horrific plus he loves political prisoner Aricia. When Theseus returns from the dead, Fedra tells him Hippo raped her. Curses! It’s a Greek tragedy!

OMA! I wanted to love Fedra, but Afrodite was against me and I only liked it. Starring and written by J. Nicole Brooks (Fedra), the acting was a little over the top and the writing was little under the bottom. The combination made for some overly dramatic clichés. Using what I like to call an “opera voice” to wail emotion is too gimmicky. So, is a twitchy eye to symbolize someone’s love. “Your eye is twitching therefore you must love Aricia!” (,said in an opera voice.) Come on! My eye twitching means I’ve had too much coffee not that I’m in love with the guy at Starbucks. Brooks’ best Fedra moments were the Afrodite (Tamberla Perry) interactions, particularly the scene in which Brooks is paralyzed and holding herself up with one arm. (Nice guns, Fedra!) Was it a curse from the gods? I really did love Perry as the sassy diety, Afrodite. The spell encompassed Michael Salinas (Theramenes) too. I can’t help but compare Salinas’ recent stint in Hollowlands to his current understated but commanding performance. OMA, the boy’s got range!

Afrodite also allowed me to love the costumes and set. Alison Siple displayed a range of costumes with a modern twist. From the god to the queen to the political prisoner, I loved seeing that future fashion is flowy fun paired with high tops. Water was an interesting element to the set design by Meghan Raham. Dripping from the ceiling and a pool on stage, water was a prop used by the actors to summon the gods and for redemption. Kudos to the actors for getting in the pool fully clothed every show. OMA! Wet shoes stink!

Not feeling the love, Bill described it as dramatic, mediocre acting, and amateurish.


In the spirit of the economic times, Bill scrounged up Corner Bakery gift cards to treat for a pre-show dinner. On a cold, dark, rainy Chicago night, the Corner Bakery (676 N. St. Clair) was a home baked refuge. Cookies everywhere! It was love at first sight with a snickerdoodle. And because Bill treats me like a queen, he told me I could get a cookie with my dinner. Everything was going perfectly as we ordered a bounty of food that totaled $19.76. And then… curses! The cashier denied the gift cards as invalid since the merger. Always the diplomat, Bill pointed out the gift cards were still featured on the website. The manager came over to deny us as well. Greek tragedy! Always willing to be the crazy queen, I canceled our order and stormed off. OMA! Where’s the love, Corner Bakery?

Two blocks away within the Omni Hotel, we found redemption at the 676 Lounge (676 N. Michigan). Even though we basically repeated our order of a wrap and salad to split, 676 gave us something that Corner Bakery couldn’t….no not love, wine. 676 only kinda liked us but that could be forgiven with a nice shiraz. The sole bartender was serving a bustling after work crowd with the “help” or more like “hindrance” of a slow moving manager. The arugula and apple salad combined perfectly with the barbecue chicken wrap. Although the bill was over four times what Corner Bakery’s would have been, we left 676 cookieless but with dignity intact.

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