Adrift in Macao
Music by Peter Melnick
Directed by Toma Tavares Langston
Musical Direction by Paul Rigano
Choreography by Raymond K. Cleveland
Produced by InnateVolution Theater
At The Call Bar
I pulled the door back and she slid in like a wisp of the fog.
– Raymond Chandler, Playback
Adrift in Macao makes its Chicago debut with InnateVolution’s production, staged in the tiny Call Bar just off Clark Street. It’s a playful romp, playing with the tropes and stories of film noir, reverential yet irreverent. It’s camp at its campiest. And in the hands of Toma Tavares Langston, it’s not too bad.
The story is sort of like a film-noir version of Comedy of Errors – instead of ever Plautus play rolled into one, it’s every noir hit rolled into one. The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, various early Hitchcock . . . . There are five people, waiting around in Macao for something to happen. Rick Shaw (Johnny Kyle Cook) is a night club owner à la Rick’s Café Américain; he meets the helpless dame, Lureena Jones (Stephanie Souza), and lets her sing in his club; this ousts the old singer, Corinna (Lena Dansdill), the drugged-up and dangerous femme fatale; Mitch Boonton (Jordan Phelps), the tough, stand-offish American modeled on Chandler’s Marlowe, is searching for a man named McGuffin, who framed him for murder; and the native Tempura (Nico Nepomuceno) assists those who ask when it suits him. The plot’s paper-thin – and it’s supposed to be. The songs are good, the book cornball as anything and really quite funny.
The production doesn’t really try to be anything it’s not: a group of mostly kids acting in a bar. There are problems: the sound’s not great, and the actors have trouble projecting through the songs, and aren’t great dancers – and I think the only thing on stage that likes women is Jordan Phelps (which is neither here nor there in-and-of-itself, but when you can tell regardless of the acting, it becomes an issue). The costumes are nice, the set very simple but versatile; there was a dark spot in the middle of the stage, so lighting needs improvement. And though the show comes out with great guns, it sags sometime in the middle. But it’s good fun, all told. And the Call Bar has drink specials going that are quite good. So, it’s a nice excuse to go out, get lit, and see a show. But, sadly, they’re asking too much. This would be a great night at $10-$15, but the $25 price, even though it includes a well drink / house wine / Miller Lite (oh, joy!) – so you can knock off about $4 including tip – is steep for what you get. If you don’t mind that, it’s a nice night out.
Reviewed on 5.8.11
For full show information, go to Theatre in Chicago.
At The Call Bar, 1547 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL; for tickets call 321-513-1415; tickets $25; age 21+; Sundays only at 7:30, through May 29; running time 1 hour 30 minutes, no intermission.