Review "Mistakes Were Made": Michael Shannon's One Man Show

A Red Orchid Theatre presents


By Craig Wright

Directed by Dexter Bullard

October 22, 2009

Things have to happen for something to occur” is a line from the script that sums up perfectly Mistakes Were Made. Felix Artifex (played by Michael Shannon) is the middleman juggling the high maintenance needs of an actor, playwright, agent and others in an effort to produce a fictitious play entitled “Mistakes Were Made.” Throughout his multi-tasking job, he is also fretting about his non-responsive ex. The twist, in this A Red Orchid Theatre production, is all the interaction is done over the telephone. The audience is eavesdropping on a one-sided conversation to determine what is happening.

With only the aid of a primarily offstage receptionist and a rubber fish, Michael Shannon is a one man show. Shannon does a phenomenal job! For an hour and forty-five minutes (no intermission), he rants on. Sprint transitioning from call to call, Shannon transforms his double speak to each caller’s agenda. At the end of the show, Shannon looks exhausted and is dripping in sweat. I loved him in Revolutionary Road which prompted me to buy tickets to Mistakes Were Made. No one plays psychotic on film or on stage better than Michael Shannon.

Mistakes Were Made!? The theatre is kept at an Artic chill. I’m not sure if it is for Shannon’s high energy performance or to keep the audience awake. Things have to happen for something to occur. Craig Wright’s script is innovative and witty. Unfortunately without some interactive action on stage, the audience can’t sustain the concentration level for almost two hours to understand the full story from the one-sided delivery. There are heads a noddin’ throughout the audience. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I might have zoned out once… or four times. The other speed bump is the theatre configuration. In the lobby, I overhear a box office person say there were only ten seats left and that includes “the ones that are partially obstructed.” Come on now! It’s a mistake to have any seat partially obstructed. I can’t decide if the set design by Tom Burch (which is a perfect replication of a producer’s office) is at fault or the theatre space is just clunky.

My gal pal sidekick, Jen described the show as intense (for actor and audience), imaginative and involved.


Pre-preshow, I wander into Eivissa (1531 N. Wells Street) right next door to the theatre. As luck would have it, they are hosting a grand opening special of sangria and tapas for $10 between 6pm – 8pm. My mistake is I’ve been mustering a sushi craving all day in relation to my pending dinner plans. Steph, the very friendly bartender, suggests a nice and inexpensive roja. My quiet bar refuge from the cold, rainy night is interrupted as the masses appear for tonight’s festivities. One woman orders two Sangrias for herself and the empty bar stool between us. She explains to me it’s her “pretend boyfriend.” (Gal, I’ve gone out with him, he’s no prize!) Before I leave, Steph slips me a card with 10% off of my next visit. She wants me to try the food. Things have to happen for something to occur. Oh, I’ll be back. I love a discount or coupon.

Speaking of coupons, I meet up with Jen at Kamahachi (1400 N. Wells). It wasn’t a mistake to turn down the free tapas because the sushi was delicious and bountiful. I started with a Japanese pumpkin soup. Hot, creamy and rich, the soup was a perfect starter. We split three rolls including the turtle roll. Having purchased a $50 gift certificate for $20 through Groupon, our 3 rolls, 2 soups and 1 bottle of wine meal was $14.50 each. (Of course, we tipped on the full amount because we aren’t savages.) Things have to happen for something to occur. I haven’t been to Kamahachi in awhile but I’ll be back. Jen’s got three more groupons!

Leave a comment