Chesapeake

By Lee Blessingchesapeake at remy bumppo think theatre

Directed by Shawn Douglas

Produced by Remy Bumppo think theatre

At the Greenhouse Theater Center, Chicago

Dogs rule in barking-ly funny Chesapeake

Talk about the “dog days” of spring – we have a funny yet telling fable about an artist, a politician and a couple of dogs that turns into an hilarious two hours of theatre!

Lee Blessing’s 1999 play, Chesapeake , was written when Republican North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms and his congressional pals attacked on the National Endowment for the Arts funding by Congress. Sounds familiar in 2012?

chesapeake at remy bumppo think theatre - greg anderson

Remy Bumppo think theatre has mounted Chesapeake under the thoughtful direction of Shawn Douglass. This one-person comedy, staring Greg Matthew Anderson, is  quirky yet funny cautionary tale about artistic expression and the ignorant governmental attempts to stifle art.

chesapeake at remy bumppo think theatre - greg anderson

We meet the controversial performance artist Kerr (Greg Matthew Anderson) as he attempts to charm us into his lifestyle and his artistic expression.  Anderson exudes empathy and charisma as he quickly wins us. Of course, he is singing to the choir.  We learn that Kerr’s NYC performance art act consists of him delivering excerpts from “The Song of Solomon” from the Bible while audience members completely strip him naked.

A Southern politician from Kerr’s home town – the folksy, conservative, dog-toting Therm Pooley uses Kerr to attack both Kerr’s art and his grant from the NEA to win his Senatorial election bid. Pooley wins and Kerr plots revenge by attempting a dog-napping to reveal the Senator’s manipulation of the public.

But playwright Lee Blessing adds a twist to Kerr’s scheme-the Universe plays a cruel trick on Kerr that finds the human artist inhabiting a dog as both he and the Senator’s dog die in a fall off a dam. This hilarious twist is deliciously played out by the lovable Greg Anderson as his body language and facial expressions allows him to speak ‘dog’! The new man-dog, also know as “Lucky” but really Kerr, with the help of some good belly rubs, gets Kerr-Lucky to influence Pooley to change his stance on the NEA.  Is the new Lucky really a messenger from God speaking through a computer keyboard strokes from a dog? Pooley thinks so. Can the inner life of our dogs champion the artist-activist in us all? See this tour de force by Greg Anderson and you’ll be barking it’s praise.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 2, 2012

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Chesapeake page on theatreinchicago.com

At the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.remybumppo.org, tickets $35 – $40, with $20 student tickets, etc., Wednesdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, with several Saturday 7 Sunday matinees, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through April 29, 2012