Directed by: Timothy Bambara
BoHo Theatre at Heartland Studio
Nothing feels more like the holidays than the looming threat of Armageddon. The end of the world may or may not arrive on New Years Day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not too late to repent all your sins while dancing to Calypso music…just in case. This is the premise of William Donnelly’s new comedy Apocalypso, playing at the BoHo Theatre in Rogers Park.
In this piece we meet 8 people, all with a connection to each other and all with something to be forgiven for. Taking place between Christmas and New Years day, during a time where anxiety is already on high, these individuals wax poetic on what it means to absolve or be absolved.
There’s a great cross-section of characters here; the sponging roommate, the married ex-jock hanging on to his glory days, the loving and trusting wife, and the conniving, emotional disturbed ex-girlfriend. All with their own sense of “home”, meaning that their environment is very dependent on their behavior and their meaning of what it means to do right.
Director Timothy Bambara seems to have gone to great lengths to organize this tiny theatre space to let each of these characters have their own personal area to tell their story. While I was watching this show, I felt the scenery transform from a bar to a kitchen then to a car then to a living room and then back to a bar again with only the most minimalist of stage props. The show also utilizes black-out sequences, accompanied by a soundtrack. It makes you feel as if you were watching a movie…but in a good way.
But let’s not leave out the actors and their ability to be aware of their surroundings, most notably Gus, played by Mike Rice. His performance as the bar stool philosopher was not only relatable (just ask anyone who goes to a local Chicago bar) and grotesquely witty, but it was hysterical as well. I felt as if I’ve met him before. The neurotic character Walt, played by Jared Neil, and the double-crossing dame Gin, played by Heather Brodie, played off each other very well and displayed some very hard truths about men who are suckers.
The complexion of these characters was well drawn out, however, some of the characters felt mismatched with their transgressions. Much like Dwight, played by Tony Kaehny, who plays the young husband who’s living in the shadow of his high school basketball days. His lack of passion as a character does not lead us to really care about him. He’s not a jerk, but at the same time he’s not exactly likable. He’s just there. Yet, he’s the one who has the biggest “surprise” of the show. When we find out what he did wrong, we just don’t care. I must make special note that this is more a writing flaw and not a representation of Kaehny’s acting. He did his best with what he had.
At the end of the day I felt like this script was familiar, but too predictable. The lack of surprise however, didn’t ruin my experience. I think the direction, use of space, and decent acting made Apocalypso entertaining enough to make me think about righting some past wrongs…at least for a little bit.
John B. Reinhardt
Date Reviewed: 9/13/10
For full show information, check out Apocalypso page at TheatreInChicago.
BoHo Theatre at Heartland Studio/ 7016 N. Glenwood Chicago / $15 general admission $12 on Sunday / Running time approximately 100 minutes with intermission/ September 9thh, thru October 2nd / Thurs. – Sat. 8pm / Sun. 2pm