A Beautiful Spell

A Beautiful Spell by Greg Kalleres

By Greg Kalleres

Directed by Ian Streicher

Produced by rare terra theatre

At the Royal George upstairs studio theatre

Physical and psychological night terror incident goes over-the-top

Setting for 90 minutes in those small uncomfortable wooden chairs in the upstairs studio space at the Royal George Theatre and watching the gruelingly long and tediously repetitious bedroom drama – A Beautiful Spell – made for more  an endurance battle than a fun night at the theatre.

Greg Kalleres’ ambitious two-hander dramatizes what could happen to a nine year marriage when the fizzle dissipates from a marriage. Franny (Maggie Corbett) suddenly wakes up one night in complete distress because she has a personal epiphany. She realizes that she doesn’t love her husband anymore. In fact, she despises him in every way – his looks, his touch, his mannerism, etc.

A Beautiful Spell by Greg Kalleres

When Jim (Eric Burgher) tries to explain that she is simply having a night terror episode, a banter starts that leads to both concluding that they no longer love each other.  Their panic is real, deep and complete. After tediously repetitious questioning that leads to acquisitions back and forth, the couple realizes that since their sexual desire has vanished – and that it is an omen for losing the spark that made their marriage zing – they start to panic. Are they “over” as a couple?

In a desperate desire to salvage their marriage and keep a safe home for their five year old, they try several things including role playing games designed to re-spark their sexual attraction. After several long and wordy attempts, they finally reach a role-playing scenario that could work but a deep seated suicidal reference leads both almost to the point of mutual self-destruction.

A Beautiful Spell exposes the strongly held truths that seem to lie beneath the surface of wedded bliss. If this play is to be taken seriously, then we realize that both people are deeply psychologically disturbed and are in need of help before they mutually destroy their family. Despite some funny moments, A Beautiful Spell is at least 20 minutes too long since it has too much detail with each person’s foibles, thoughts and obsessions.

While Maggie Corbett and Eric Burger work hard to makes their characters believable, and they do have some terrific moments, but ultimately they get overwhelmed with all the bits, attacks and roles asked of them. It is astonishing that the characters never realize that they need psychological help. This could be tolerated somewhat if the ending was plausible. After suffering sitting discomfort, you’d hope for a better ending. I felt cheated and manipulated with this play. Playwright Greg Kalleres has overwritten this marriage drama as he tires us out both physically and emotionally here.  I felt as worn out as the characters. A trim, stronger focus and a stronger conclusion would serve this work well. I do believe that there is a worthy play hidden in all the clutter. You would think that the management at the Royal George would find comfortable seats especially since they charge high rental rates?

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: July 15, 2011

For more info on A Beautiful Spell page on  www.theatreinchicago.com

At the Royal George upstairs studio theatre, 1642 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL, call312-988-9000, www.rareterratheatre.com, tickets $15 – $25, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through August 7, 2011