"Lascivious Something" (Signal Ensemble Theatre): Full-bodied with a Strong Finish

"Lascivious Something" (Signal Ensemble Theatre):  Full-bodied with a Strong Finish

Signal Ensemble Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING.

What would you do if your past arrived on the doorstep of your present?  Playwright Shelia Callaghan answers that question with multiple choices.  Callaghan’s builds the intrigue on this love triangle. August disappeared 14 years ago.  Liza finally hunts him down.  She finds him married and making wine on an obscure Greek island.  The meet-up is initially awkward.  Later, it’s a big, old, hot mess.  These three characters have individual and collective dirty laundry that needs to be aired, sorted, and tossed or stored.

As their stories unfold, Callaghan gives us duplicated scenes with different responses.  In one scenario, Simone Roos (Daphne) describes an erotic lovers’ tryst.  The scene is repeated with a simpler explanation.  Fantasy meets reality with the secrets told and hidden. Under the skillful direction of Ronan Marra, the puzzle pieces fall out of the box and we get to fit them together.  A few pieces interlock to the same piece. The trick is figuring out what is the perfect fit for the character.  Marra keeps us guessing right up to the very end and beyond that.  I was still chatting about the outcome as I walked out of the theatre.

The cast is terrific. Callaghan gives them redeeming qualities wrapped in self-absorption.  As their lives unravel, we see each’s goodness, ugliness and neediness. The perfectly accented Simone Roos (Daphne) is the gracious hostess.  A hilarious Roos is charmingly blunt. Her direct address to Liza is equally sophisticated and vulnerable.  The intriguing Georgann Charuhas (Liza) presents herself with a down-to-earth sensibility that conflicts with her stalker-like adventure.  The object of affection and obsession is Joe McCauley (August).  McCauley’s ongoing identity crisis spills over on the women that adore him.  His interactions with the ladies are passionate.  Sometimes tenderly.  Sometimes violently.  He is an enigma that we become invested in figuring out.   The fourth member of the cast is Cassidy Shea Stirtz (Boy).  Stirtz is another mystery to be solved.  On the surface, her presence is playful.  Yet, there is an underlying ick factor in her real position at the vineyard.

Set Designer Buck Blue transports us to the vineyard house porch.  The look is detailed and rustic.  Mismatched chairs, discarded tools, horseshoe and bottle knick-knacks welcome us to the homey atmosphere.  In a climactic scene, the set actually reacts to shocking news.  This response makes for a even more startling moment for the audience.

LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING is something lascivious.  Never soap operatic, always engrossing.  It is full-bodied with a strong finish. It will have you lusting after a glass of their legendary wine and leave you will a bittersweet aftertaste.

Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
At Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice
Written by Shelia Callaghan
Directed by Ronan Marra
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru June 8th
Buy Tickets at www.signalensemble.com

Leave a comment