Directed by Adam Webster
At the side project theatre, Chicago
World premiere one act plays an ode to Beckett and Pinter
Famed poet Sherod Santos demonstrates his skill at dialogue and quirky character development in his 75 minute one act drama, Lives of the Pigeons. Two older men, Gus (Vincent Lonergan) and Max (Done Bender), old friends for years, spend many days in the park playing chess. Theses two exchange stories, social commentaries and observations about such things as the nature of “good behavior.” The quip that good behavior only is rewarded in prison; that in normal life good behavior goes unheralded. These witty, often humorous exchanges are insightful and engaging. Max is an aggressive fellow while Gus is a most timid sort. Their chess games are quite competitive as the stakes are often beer and sandwiches.
One day, while Max is gone, a strange Man with the Cane (Matthew Lloyd) is found sitting in Max’s seat in the rural park area where the two seniors play chess. The eccentric man is dressed to the nines including a bowler hat and a handsome cane. He challenges Gus, who questions the Man about where is Max and who he is and why is here in their little encampment. These exchanges frighten Gus as they led to the Man focusing on Gus’ propensity to feed the pigeons despite all the signs asking folks not to.
Gus only sees the Man when Max is gone. As this dark comedy unfolds we see how Gus and Max tell stories about Rose (Gus’ girlfriend?) and who and why was their hangout – ‘the Palace’ burned down? And is the Man with the Cane who escalated his terror on Gus real or is he a product of Gus’ guilt? This short show explorers loneliness, alienation and the nature of absolution in the hands of two or three unique old-timers.
The acting is terrific as three veteran players nail their roles deftly. Vincent Lonergan is particularly moving as Gus while Don Bender is his usual fine character player. Matthew Lloyd is expertly menacing as the Man with the Cane.
This short surreal dark comedy is smart, funny and thought provoking. If you like Beckett and Pinter, you’ll enjoy The Live of the Pigeons.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: June 7, 2013
For more info checkout The Lives of the Pigeons page at theatreinchicago.com
At the side project theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis, chicago, IL, call 773-340-0140, www.thesideproject.net, tickets $20, $15 for seniors and students, Thursdays , Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermissions, through June 30, 2013