Directed by Jonathan L. Green and Megan A. Smith
Produced by Sideshow Theatre Company
At Theater Wit, Chicago
New voice enthralls with gorgeously lyrical dialogue that keeps the mystery flowing throughout.
Sideshow Theatre Company snatched a gem of a play from D.C.’s Longacre Lea Theatre with Kathleen Akerley’s Theories of the Sun. This lovely drama is part mystic spiritual, part allegory and part suspense mystery rolled into a beautifully written evening of theatre. Built upon Eric Luchen breezy set with terrific sounds from Christopher M. LaPorte and Jordan Kardasz’s lighting, Theories of the Sun’s production values are first class and professional.
Playwright Kathleen Akerley’s script features writing that is filled with excellent mystical storytelling told in vivid language as well as whimsical and wryly speeches that bring out the quirkiness of the characters. Akerley’s plot keeps the mystery suspense mounting throughout. With death as a character and myth of the nature of life itself, Theories of the Sun is both an ‘idea play’ and a mystery on the nature of aging and life itself.
The play is set in 1963 in a remote French hotel where The Proprietor (Andrew Marikis) is ever present to fill empty glasses. He dotes on a whiskey-fueled Tennessee Williams (Andy Luther), pithy Tom Stoppard (Matt Fletcher) and The American (Michael Mercier). Barbara Sweeney (Susie Griffith) and her daughter Elizabeth (Scottie Caldwell) arrive to have the eccentrically brilliant French Doctor Giraud (Jesse Young) diagnose Elizabeth’s ailment. While the wacky, Clouseau-like Giraud works up his diagnosis, Elizabeth spends her free time meeting with the elusive Mr. Asher (Dylan Stuckey in a tour de force performance) who flirts with and vividly tells Elizabeth mythical Sun stories from ancient peoples.
Since only Elizabeth can see Asher, the mystery deepens as to both who and why only Elizabeth can see Asher? Add The American’s role to the story and the twists and turns grow as this splendid show unfolds. There is confusion between Barbara and Elizabeth’s relationship that affects Elizabeth’s strange ailment. I can’t reveal more so as to not spoil the clever suspense. Trust me, you’ll not figure out the what’s and why’s of this tightly written play.
The cast superbly exudes the forceful passion, the stylized movements and the quirkiness of the characters. This is ensemble acting of the first order. Scottie Caldwell’s Elizabeth is alluring while Fletcher and Luther have Stoppard and Williams down. Jesse Young channels Inspector Clouseau and Marikis is the manic proprietor. Chicago newbie Dylan Stuckey is a most articulate, charismatic and charmingly mystical character. Who he is and why he is obsessed with Elizabeth will keep you guessing. Michael Mercier’s character will also perplex you.
Themes such as eternal life, aging, passion, death and the meaning of life itself are explored with fresh, innovative outlooks that will leave you questioning what it means to live our lives in time. Theories of the Sun is a masterwork that is a satisfying theatrical event. It is the best new work I’ve seen this year! Don’t miss it. Sideshow Theatre Company has raised the bar in storefront theatre.
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL, 773-975-8150, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3 pm, special industry performance on Monday, Sept 27 at 7:30, additional matinee at 3 pm on Saturday, Oct 2, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission.