Directed by Darrell W. Cox
At Profiles Theatre, The Main Stage, Chicago
Gritty realism presented in the day in the life of a Chicago cab driver
Every policeman, watercress, ER nurse, and cab driver knows that two events trigger weird behavior in the public: a full moon and a major holiday. After a ten year run from 1992 through 2002, Will Kern’s Hellcab is being remounted by Profiles Theatre at their Main Stage in Lakeview. Kern’s play is based on his experience as a Chicago cab driver.
Konstantin Khrustov, as the cab driver, marvelously personally reacts to the foibles and idiosyncrasies of each of his Christmas Eve passengers as we drive along with him during his long shift in Can #303. Director Darrel W. Cox utilizes 34 actors to portray the passengers who grace cab #303. This gritty journey is often hilarious and sometimes worrisome as we quickly empathize with driver as he struggles to keep sane while chauffeuring his clientele around Chicago.
Hellcab unfolds as a series of short vignettes each consisting of driver’s fares. Holidays sure bring out the silliness, the nastiness, the heartlessness of folks. They argue, the drink too much and they are so horny an they end up traveling in cab #303. We see an engaging lot as they easily act uninhibited as passengers in a taxi. Driver is a sympathetic and compassionate fellow who reacts to his passenger’s antics. He gets more than cash tips from his fares: one passenger coming on sexually to him; he has close a scary encounter in a rough neighborhood; and he survives a “jones-ing addict. He demonstrates compassion for a blind man who rebuffs his help; he becomes upset by a fare who admits that she was just raped. There is the woman in labor; the arguing couple; and the obnoxious businessman who uses a sweet girl only for sex; and, of course, the horny couple who can’t wait to get to a hotel to have sex.
Playwright Will Kern also deals head-on with race as he has a white and a black driver talking about who will and who will not pick up black passengers, especially in poor neighborhoods. This part is frank and realistic. Driver, as a white driver, will pick up anyone anywhere. In the 80 minute one act, Hellcab sure shows human nature at is worst due to the tensions of holiday expectations. It is a reality check for all those sweet holiday shows. Yet, the show ends with moving reaffirmation that there are still good people left in the world. Driver does meet one near the end of his shift.
Hellcab features terrific work from Konstantin Khrustov as the Russian emigrant driver. Also the sweeping intensity of the cast of 34 players kept the action moving marvelously.Rich in humor, rawness, and eccentric behavior, Hellcab is a ride you’ll want to take. I can see why it ran for ten years in Chicago.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: November 13, 2012
For more info checkout the Hellcab page at theatreinchicago.com
At Profies Theatre, The Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-549-1815, tickets $35 – $40, Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm. Saturdays at 5 & 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 80 minutes without an intermission, through December 23, 2012