REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Spoon River Anthology


Based on the work of Edgar Lee Mastersprovision theater

Adapted and Directed by Timothy Gregory

Original Music & Lyrics by

Alaric Jans

Michael Mahler

Gary Fry

Victoria Blade

Timothy Gregory

At Provision Theater

Theatrically engrossing piece grows weary over 90 minutes

Provision Theater’s staging of Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology features spirited work, fine singing and interesting music. The ten actors: Torrey Hanson, Sean Cooper, John Kelly Connolly, Colin R. Wasmund, Jack McCabe, Alex Weisman, Joan Kohn, Lisa D. Mortensen, Daria Harper and Victoria Blade each had their moments to shine in this ensemble rendering of Master’s poem classic.  From the 1915 collection of free-form poems, we hear the deceased folks from a fictitious small Illinois town giving their own epitaphs. There are all ages, sexes, and types that populated late 19th Century and early 20th Century middle America.  Master’s work has over 200 characters, the Provision Theater adaptation has several dozen epitaphs that, at first, were interesting but as they droned on endlessly, I lost interest despite terrific performances and a few worthy folks songs.

provision theater

What holds this theatrical effective piece together is the honesty of the epitaphs since the dead on longer had to use their ‘live’ facade making the truth easy to render.  The dramatic monologues demonstrated the variety and the actual actions and motivations of a vast variety of folks from a small town. In the spirit of less is more, I believe the message and power of those truthful epitaphs would be best served if we weren’t overwhelmed with too many of them. After a while, despite the terrific song breaks, the monologues just kept coming. My patience eroded and I became lost as to why I was continued to be bombarded with more and more stories. Like the guest who came to diner and stayed too long, Spoon River Anthology’s 95 minutes was simply that guest who ever stayed his welcome.

The cast was impressive and hard working; the original music was effective performed. With a judicious cut, Spoon River Anthology would be more entertaining.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: May 6, 2013

At Provision Theater, 1001 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL, , tickets $28 – $32, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, sundaes at3 pm, running time is 95 minutes, through June 16, 2013

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