By Bilal Dardai
Adapted from the novel by G. K. Chesterton
Directed by Jessica Hutchinson
At the Lincoln Park Cultural Center
Mixed styles dooms ambitious show
The first rule in theatre should be: don’t alienate your audience by making them stand in a crowded hot foyer for over 20 minutes waiting for the doors to open and the play to start. The play actually starts in the lobby with a debate about poetry versus anarchy so we stand for another 10 minutes until we are herded into the theatre space where the luck audience members find a chair while others are forced to sit on small benches. Not the smartest way into an audience’s heart.
Dardai’s adaptation of G. K. Chesterton’s novel features an all male cast sporting an irritating assortment of fake accents that render much of their dialogue hard to understand. This uneven production tries too hard to be a farce, to be a keystone cops comedy while also trying to be a espionage thriller and a comedy of manners. The show is much too long and slows down with long wordy speeches and involved plot explanations. This show is predictable and quickly it gets tiresome. Only Dan Granata and Sean Patrick Fawcett gave winning performances.
The over acting and over-the-top performances by several players hurt the production. Bad accents, rushed speech patterns and awkward scene changes didn’t help. The show simply tried to do too much and collapsed on its own weight. A trimmed down, more focused point of view would serve this show well. As it now plays, it is more of an endurance battle than entertaining theatre.
At the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL, call 773-516-3546, tickets $18, $12 students/seniors, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through November 21, 2009