By Garson Kanin.
Directed by David Darlow.
produced by TrmyBumppo think theatre.
At the GtrrnhouseTheatre, Chicago.
Dangerous comedy is a blend of romance, political warning and satirical comedy.
Featuring an impressive set (designed by Grant Dabin), Garson Kanin’s 1946 dark comedy Born Yesterday is a timely cautionary tale about internal threats to our democracy from corrupt businessmen. (sounds familiar?) Kanin’s clever structured story involves a boorish, crude and loudmouthed millionaire junk dealer who descends on Washington, DC just after World War II to bribe a US Senator in a scheme to salvage all the junk metal (from tanks, trucks, and cannons) in Europe scattered around France Belgium and Germany.
The crudely obnoxious brute, Harry Brock (eerily powerful Sean M, Sullivan) demands everyone always does his bidding. From his brother Eddie Brock (Drew Shirley) to his drunken, guilt-ridden lawyer Ed Devery (a terrific turn by Shawn Douglas) and subservient girlfriend Billie Dawn (Eliza Stoughton), all do Harry’s wishes. He pays well and demands much.
As he attempts to fit in with the Washington establishment, Harry hires Paul Verral (Greg Matthew Anderson) a journalist for the New Republic magazine to tutor Billie in an attempt to present her in a more favorable light to the DC establishment. As Paul and Billie interact a romance is sparked in Paul’s eyes. In the process of learning, Billie Dawn realizes how corrupt Harry is and begins interfering with his plans to bribe a Senator into passing legislation that would allow Brock’s business to make more money.
Much of the learning experience by Billie exposes the value of the classic “good books,” the social and political philosophies that are the basis of democracy are explained by Billie with wit, humor and a bit of sarcasm. Greg Matthew Anderson is mot effective as the playwright’s voice. But the strength of Born Yesterday is the fabulous performance by Eliza Stoughton. She channels Judy Holiday’s stage and film performance as Billie. Stoughton sure has the shrill-voice and mannerism of a dumb blind showgirl. Stoughton’s transformation into a smart, perceptive strong woman is a pleasure to witness. Eliza Stoughton here gives one of the finest performances seen on a Chicago stage in sometime! Shawn Douglas and Brian Parry, as Senator Hedges were effective. But Sean M. Sullivan and Eliza Stoughton carried this funny and telling dark comedy. With all the crazy things going on in DC these days, Born Yesterday mirrors what is at stake when businessman threaten democracy.
Date Reviewed: March 30, 2017.
For more info checkout the Born Yesterday page at theatreinchicago.com.
At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.remybumppo.org, tickets $42.50, $47.50, $52.50, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, Wednesday, April 12 at 7:30 pm, Thursday, April 20 at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through April 30, 2017.