Directed by James Palmer
Produced by Red Tape Theatre
At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Chicago
Slow paced, over produced Greek tragedy wears out its audience
Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1989 adaptation is a confusing piece. It is an adaptation of the Ancient Greek legend of the rape of Philomela by her brother-in-law Tereus, and the gruesome revenge undertaken by Philomela and her sister Procne. The play takes a feminist look at the ancient tale.
Based on the highly theatrical and over staged production by director James Palmer, The Love of the Nighingale plays out as a confusing, manic work cluttered with pointless performance art movement and faux ballet. The works creeps along at such a slow pace that the 105 minute worked seem 5 hours long. Too many motifs and too much movement confused and diluted the storytelling. By the time the story got going I was both lost and uncaring about the show since I wasn’t sure who to cheer for. The story was hard to follow.
The weird costumes, the violence and the not-so-sexy scenes together with all the formations and synchronized movement made me thing I was seeing two overlapping plays.
I found the show too full of gimmicks that became tedious and distracting. Wertenbaker’s script has a recommended run time of 57 minutes while Palmer’s production was 105 minutes. The acting was generally weak as it moved from soft whispers to screaming. The stage combat depicting both violence of war and rape was amateurish.
This snail-paced show in a gym that was suffocatingly warm didn’t help matters. Greek myths are challenging for non-Equity theatre troupes. They try to use theatricality to spice up their productions. In this case nothing could have saved this weak, unfocused script.
At St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 621 W Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 847-738-6919