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The Mistakes Madeline Made


By Elizabeth Meriwetherlivewire theatre

Directed by Krista D’Agostino

LiveWire Chicago Theatre

At Greenhouse Theater Center

 Nothing a good shower couldn’t fix

Questions: In a play titled The Mistakes Madeline Made, why are none of the characters named Madeline? In a play which the PR describes as being about a girl who develops Ablutophobia (the fear of bathing), why is a man always sitting in her bathtub?  (Is he preventing her from bathing?)  And, finally, who are these people and what is this play about?

The skillful actors who play  singularly odd caricatures are the best part of this 90-minute dark, comedy of the absurd (that occasionally seems interminable) although praise must also go to scenic designer Inseung Park for the clever two-tier stage with  an office (in the foreground) and apartment bathroom (with its occupied bathtub) on a raised platform behind.

Kristin Collins plays brittle Beth, head secretary for a fabulously wealthy family (never seen). Her role is to make sure that everything runs smoothly, from buying duplicate back-ups of all clothing and products so that there is never a moment of worry or concern, to replicating a daily snack for the youngest family member. This never varies: cut up fruit, a small bottle of water, a tri-folded napkin and a Handi Wipe (to clean his fingers for an ensuing piano lesson).

livewire theatre

Hilary Williams as Edna, the protagonist of the piece, plays a girl who is chaotic, resentful, depressed and distressed, sexually promiscuous, unbathed, and — of course — malodorous!

The two frenetic women are the core of the show with their altercations and mutual accommodations, playing off each other with comic verve.

Chris Zdenek, another employee, is a nerd who continually mimics the sounds around him — most especially that of the Xerox machine, although he can also do shredders, and airplanes.  He is joined by Joel Ewing as Buddy (in the bathtub) and Fred Geyer as Edna’s three rather interchangeable lovers:  cartoonish Drake, Jake, and Blake.

Does it all finally come together?  Amazingly, yes. The Handi Wipes turn out to be essential in the last 10 or so minutes of the play, catalysts that connect such disparate themes as the death of Edna’s war journalist brother, the reason for her filth, and the seeds of a new romance.

 Somewhat Recommended

Beverly Friend, Ph.D.

Member ATC

LiveWire Chicago Theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center Upstairs Studio, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.,, Tickets $20, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., through Nov 3. Run time 90 minutes without intermission. Open seating.

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