A History of Everything

As part of the CST’s World Stage series

Created by Ontroerend Goed & Sydney Theatre Company

A History of Everything at Chicago Shekespeare Theater

At Chicago Shakespeare’s Upstairs Theatre, Chicago

Mesmerizing performance art show boggles the mind and the senses

Over the years, the folks at Chicago Shakespeare Theater have searched the world to find unique theatrical experiences for their Chicago audience. They found the Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed, who, together with Sydney Theatre Company, have created one of the most innovative performance art pieces in many years!  A History of Everything is a 100 minute, seven cast members, stunning  stage presentation of the history of the world– told with a twist. The opening monologue states that scientific discoveries of the past few years offers a new insight into the nature of the universe. Astronomers now believe that the universe is still expanding but that once it stops expanding, it will reverse itself thus allowing everything to change back in reverse.  This concept is vividly played out in a black box stage using clever but simple props and video images. A large white map of the world covers the stage floor as the seven black clad actors tell the  reverse story off the world from today (May 25, 2012 with reference to the Cubs-Pirates baseball game) backward showing and  referencing pop culture as well as political events from today backward.

A History of EverythingA History of Everything

Utilizing signs: War, money symbols, national flags, the seven member cast both re-enact and comment on the events of the particular day or month and day. pop culture references garner laughter as relief from the dominance of war as the event that dominants 21st, 20th and 19th Century earth. We learn the earth’s population at key times as well as markings of key scientific breakthroughs such as the invention of agriculture, fire and/nor crude implements that allowed man to manipulate his environment. As time goes backward, we see how insignificant man real is in the scope of hundreds of million years  the earth and ultimately the universe have existed.

The artistry and amazing detail with music, movement, basic props and lighting were both innovative and mind-blowing. I can’t do justice to the creativity of the seven players and director Alexander Devriendt. This inspiring and amazing work begs to be seen to be believed. A History of Everything is a finely crafted and well presented theatrical event that finds a way to vividly demonstrate how science and history can tell us about life devoid of religious beliefs.  The story of the world – as told in reverse – sure shows how little man counts in the vast scope of events that make up “everything.”

You’ll dazzle, laugh, be ashamed, and reflect on the follies and foible of man as presented by these Belgium and Australian Thespians. A History of Everything is most marvelous and awesome theatrical event. Kudos to Chicago Shakespeare Theater for bringing this unique show to Chicago. Don’t miss it.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 25, 2012

For more info checkout the A History of Everything page at theatreinchicago.com

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, www.chicagoshakes.com, call 312-595-5600, tickets $35 – $45, Tuesday thru Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 100 minutes without intermission, through June 3, 2012