A Dark Comic Brutal Dissection of theredtwist theatre

Destructive Force of Wrath

By Leslye Headland

Directed by Jonathan Berry

At Redtwist Theatre. Chicago

“Reverb” – An effect whereby the sound produced by an amplifier or an amplified musical instrument is made to reverberate slightly.

Loving sexual infused white-hot drama dramatizes the mortal combat element in extreme dysfunctional relationships

The extreme effects of child abuse works itself out in Lesyle Headland’s powerful dark comic drama, Reverb. This 90 minutes one act is a fast paced and riveting piece that features  two unique, yet plausible characters caught up in a potentially devastating relationship.  We meet Dorian (Peter Oyloe), a moody genius composer of rock music who struggles with extreme mood swings that manifest themselves in a violent, sexually-infused physicality with the equally marred soul mate, June (Mary Williamson).  With raunchy pop music references, Reverb is actually a love story between two people (Dorian and June) whose defects from child abuse and abandonment is expressed with sexually stimulated violence that is played out with a couple of terrific stage combat scenes (designed by Ryan Bourque) and brilliantly enacted by Peter Oyloe and Mary Williamson.

redtwist theatre

redtwist theatre

Can love and sexual tension produce explosive violence that ends up in fulfilling sex? This intoxicating production will answer that!  Dorian struggles with the demons from his abusive father that makes him obsessive-compulsive as well as a creative genius composer.  When his sister, Lydia (Brittany Burch) arrives to announce to Dorian that his estranged father is dying, it triggers in Dorian his pent-up rage. June tries to keep Dorian balanced but the pressures of that news and his upcoming meeting with Capitol Records each trigger his violence. Ivy (Ashley Neal) is the cynically jaded music blogger bent on making Dorian famous.

redtwist theatre

Without giving away too much, let me state that Reverb is a complex character study as well as a unique lover story that  gives new meaning to the term ” reverb. ” It demonstrates the  power of wrath on relationships. Reverb is, indeed,  a Chicago style in-your-face raw drama. Director Jonathan Berry told me that playwright Leslye Headland turned down a New York City production believing that Chicago actors and storefront theatres would do her work justice. That became a reality with Berry’s tightly nuanced production. The dynamic stage chemistry between Peter Oyloe’s Dorian and Mary Williamson’s June was magical, explosive, and raw sensual. Their honest performances were amazing! Oyloe’s rage and Williamson’s sparkle gave depth and truth to their eventual physicality. The maze of tenderness and violence fuels their love.
These two actors gave wonderful performances. They got help from Nick Vidal, Brittany Burch and a perky scene from Ashley Neal.

redtwist theatre

Reverb is a shocking, violent work that may offer some yet it will entice sophisticated theatre patrons who relish in the powerfully raw Chicago style theatre. Leslye Headland made a good choice allowing the talented Jonathan Berry and Redtwist Theatre to mount her play in Chicago. See this masterful work to grasp the  stage craft of Chicago artists.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 18, 2013

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Reverb page at

At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL,call 773-728-7529,, tickets $25 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through June 30, 2013


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