"Ameriville" (Victory Gardens): Powerful Labyrinthine Spectacle!

"Ameriville" (Victory Gardens):  Powerful Labyrinthine Spectacle!

#27.  Even before Katrina, New Orleans was known for its Hurricanes.  I have two French Quarter traditions.  I love to start my day at Cafe Du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. And I love to end my day at Pat O’Brien’s with a legendary Hurricane.  I’m not sure what’s all in it.  But I know the ingredients mix together perfectly for a potent, unforgettable libation. 

Victory Gardens Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of AMERIVILLE.  What is AMERIVILLE?  Simply put, it’s a social commentary on the state of the union.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the American landscape is explored for devastation.  Poverty, healthcare, military suicide, racial injustice are some of the political topics scrutinized.  What is AMERVILLE?  It’s a labyrinthine spectacle! I’m not sure what’s all in it.  But I know the ingredients mix together perfectly for a potent, unforgettable libation. 

Written and performed by Universes, the show is an electrifying blend of multiple artistic and media vehicles.  It is modern AND old-fashion. Hip-hop and stand-up comedy mingles with gospel-singing and poetry.  It’s a stomping, scat-singing, lyrical sensation.  Under the direction of new Artistic Director Chay Yew, the cabaret-like showcase is dynamic.  The pace is rhythmic and fluid.  The numerous scenes flow right into the next one.  Yew and Choreographer Millicent Johnnie staged it as a non-stop, energetic movement.  It’s not ballet.  It’s not jazz.  It’s like a waltz done by four people without touching.  Universes is just impressively in-sync.  One starts the foot tapping and they all join in.  They start synchronized rowing and you expect them to move across the floor.         

Their physical fusion leads to verbal harmonies.  They sing, recite and rant with powerful, well-chosen verse.  The content is a liberal education.  Video designer Brian Freeland adds projected images and factoids to reinforce the message.  The Universes quartet, Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Gamal Chasten, and William Ruiz, is a union of perfection.  Although I enjoyed the entire talented foursome, Ruiz-Sapp is a rafter-shaking, powerhouse singer.  Her parts had me transfixed.  AMERIVILLE is a call to action.  I left the theatre humming and energized.  I want to row the boat into the hurricane. 

 With her own individualistic artistic expression, M-Vo describes it with ‘no holds barred.’

 Production photograph courtesy of Michael Brosilow.

 Running Time:  One hour and fifty minutes includes a delayed start with no intermission

At Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln

Written and performed by Universes

Developed and directed by Chay Yew

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 7:30pm

Sundays at 3pm 

Thru February 26th 

Buy Tickets at www.victorygardens.org

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