EXTENDED *AGAIN* THRU August 21st "The Last Act of Lilka Kadison": Magically Uplifting!

Audio Podcast at ITUNES Chicago Theatre Reviews for Week of June 17th Narrated by Joshua Volkers 

Lookingglass Theatre, in association with Abbie Phillips, presentsIMG_0509.jpgTHE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISONReviewed by Katy Walsh  A cantankerous old woman is bothered by a hovering caretaker, an absentee son and a demanding ghost.  She’s mad!  Is it her natural state or medicinally prescribed?  What’s the story?  How did she get to this moment? Before she can rest in peace, Lil must remember the unforgettable.  Lookingglass Theatre, in association with Abbie Phillips, presents the world premiere of THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON.  An 87 year-old widow breaks her hip. To ease the pain, Lil acquires an aide and drugs.  She reacts to both with crusty disdain.  Her past creeps into the living room.  The ghost of pre-Holocaust Poland conjures up her life at seventeen.  Lil reminisces in and out of two realities.  In her present, she bickers with her caretaker. In her past, she spars with a fun-loving boy.  The fighting ceases as understanding leads to redemption.  THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON enchants as a lovely finale of a woman’s personal story. Dodds Frank, Ally, Bone, Fiffer - V.jpgThe collaborative efforts of the writing team of Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar, Abbie Phillips, Heidi Stillman and Andrew White ensure a tight, unified story.  A dying old woman and Holocaust flashbacks are downers. The show isn’t! The writing team adds a little hocus pocus and the story becomes magically uplifting. Kersnar masterfully directs the bewitching ensemble.  Marilyn Dodds Frank (Lil) is poignantly feisty, flirtatious and fragile. Frank snipes with crotchety wit and later woos Ben with subtle cougar-style.  Along with her zesty banter, Frank has an underlying physical and emotional fragility. Chance Bone (Ben) is a dazzling showman!  A magnetic Bone works all the levers to fascinate the ladies at any age.  Nora Fiffer (Lilka) allures as an awkward innocent that has a shattered awakening. Fiffer’s reaction to heart ache is shiver-inducing.   Usman Ally (Menelik) is hysterical as the irritable caretaker. His angst turns to interest with a charming shift.  The entire ensemble spellbinds!    

Scenic designers Jacqueline and Richard Penrod add their own wizardry to the show.  The Bone, Fiffer toy theater.jpgstage serves as a hoarder’s haven.  Lil’s living room is a messy compilation of stacked magazines, full garbage bags and sheet-draped piles.  The present is a gritty reality! The past is a whimsical fantasy.  The scenery pop-ups, fold-outs, add-ons with delightful animation.  In addition, a puppet-show-on-a-cart, designed by Tracy Otwell, is amusement in motion. Otwell stages a dynamic mini-play within a play. Engagement doesn’t stop at the visual imagery. It sounds powerful too! Designer Rick Sims’ audio simulations startled me… twice!   

This show had a strong effect on me.  I laughed. I cringed.  And when Frank says, “I’m 87 years old and all I want is my mother,” I cried.  THE LAST ACT OF LILKA KADISON captivates as a sentimental, intimate tribute to endurance.  According to the show, “Nothing feeds your mind like a good story.”  Well, this show is serving up an all-you-can-eat buffet.              Always looking for the vegetarian options, Jen describes it with ‘beautifully woven tale.’Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission At 821 North MichiganWritten by Nicola Behrman, David Kersnar, Abbie Phillips, Heidi Stillman and Andrew WhiteDirected by David KersnarWednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays at 7:30pmSaturdays and Sundays at 3pmEXTENDED Thru August 21st  Buy Tickets Production photography courtesy of Sean Williams.

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