"The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): High Spirited Frivolity

"The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater):  High Spirited Frivolity

#192.  What do being pished, legless, blootered, moroculous, banjaxed, steaming, stocious have in common?  Alcohol!  The Scots have multiple descriptors for being blind-stinking drunk!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents National Theatre of Scotland’s THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART as part of the World’s Stage Series.  Prudencia Hart is an uptight academic.  Although she lectures on Scottish folk music, Prudencia doesn’t really let the music move her.  She hears the words but doesn’t feel the emotion.  She fails to understand the soul-stirring, scotch-drinking, pub-singing essences of the tunes.  When she is stranded in a snowstorm, a mysterious gentleman provides shelter in his house of books.  He turns out to be the devil.  She turns out to be his prisoner.   But is she damned for all eternity?  Or is she in her own heaven for scholarly pursuits.   THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART sings like SuBo pished on the minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.  (translation:  Susan Boyle drunk on a famous collection of folk ballads.)

The upstairs of Chicago Shakes has been transformed into a Scottish pub.  Well maybe, it’s more like a community hall.  Theatre goers can purchase a drink *in* the theatre and join other revelers at communal tables.  The music has already started.  The vibe is fun-loving!  The five person ensemble is livening up the joint.  They are serving tavern tunes by the keg-full.  When the show officially starts, they ease into a tall tale of the notorious Prudencia.  One of the gals becomes the main character and the rest of the ensemble plays all the other parts.  There is no real stage and the cast uses the entire room to spin their saloon yarn.   The audience is encouraged to participate in snowmaking and other good-natured buffoonery.    

I enjoyed this show.  It’s a cross between “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” and “Finnegan’s Wake” but with intellectual humor.  It has some substantive themes of redemption and love but, handles them with playful charm.   The only speed-bump for me was the length.  Two and half hours seemed to drag too far into the future for Prudencia.  For such a high-spirited frivolity, it would be better condensed into a ninety-minute ride with no intermission.    

Running Time:  Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand

Written by David Greig

Directed by Wils Wilson

Musical direction and composition by Alasdair Macrae

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

Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm

Thru October 28th  

Buy Tickets at www.chicagoshakes.com

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