Review – “Cadillac” at Chicago Dramatists

Craig Spidle and Ian Forester as used car salesmen arguing over a commissionProduction: Cadillac

Producers: Chicago Dramatists 

Review: In the world-premier of Bill Jepsen’s Cadillac, we are presented with a quandary: How does one keep true to his principles and values while employed in a profession where deception and manipulation are an industry standard – in this case, a used car lot? Attach to this a changing of the guard if you will – where car sales are beginning to be initiated on the internet rather than through the usual schmoozing with the walk-in customers. The play takes place almost entirely in the office of the business manager, Howard Austin (adeptly played by Craig Spidle). It is the end of the month, when final sales are totaled, and commissions are tallied. Only one more car, and the cocky upstart Gary (Ian Forester), will have tied the all-time sales record of rosy-eyed old-timer Art (Rob Riley), and receive a huge bonus. And if the lone female salesman, Robin (Kathy Logelin), does not meet her quota (only one more car), she will lose her job. In the middle of all this is a long-time customer, newly-retired Fred (Gene Cordon), who shows up to finally follow through with his life-long dream – owning a Cadillac (unfortunately his credit record does not want to cooperate with this wish).

Edward Sobel’s directing talents are on full display here, especially in the work’s best scene, a sort of “phone fugue” – all of the dealership’s employees are on their respective phones, talking at once. This scene is so remarkable in that playwright Bill Jepsen has melded 4 different simultaneous conversations in such a way that many pertinent aspects of the different characters are revealed. Jepsen has a talent in creating believable and approachable characters – even though we may find the young Gary quite caustic, we still understand him. Production-wise Cadillac looks great. Kevin Depinet’s set is well-adapted for the small space, using windows in the back of the office to allow us to see into other parts of the dealership. Keith Parham’s lighting is rightfully unobtrusive.

Summary: Cadillac is a very solid piece of theatre – one of the most satisfying new works I’ve seen in quite a while. The ending of the play shares a similarity with HBO’s Sopranos finale in that – though many questions are left unanswered – we’re still content. I’m guessing that we’ll be seeing Cadillac appearing on many a regional theatre’s future seasons. Recommended.

Rating: «««½

Personnel and Show Information
Playwright: Bill Jepsen
Director: Edward Sobel
Sets: Kevin Depinet
Lights: Keith Parham
Costumes: Debbie Baer
Sound Design: Miles Polaski
Props: Daniel Pellant
Stage Manage: Tom Hagglund
Featuring: Gene Cordon (Fred)
Craig Spidle (Howard)
Kathy Logelin (Robin)
Rob Riley (Art)
Ian Forester (Gary)
Steve Ratcliff (James)
Laurie Larson (Ellen)
Location: Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. (map )
Dates: Through February 24th
Show Times: Thursday-Saturday, 8pm. Sunday matinee, 3pm
Craig Spidle closes the deal on a used car sale with customers Laurie Larson and Steve Ratcliff
Craig Spidle, Kathy Logelin, and Rob Riley as used car salesmen gearing up for the last sales day of the month
Craig Spidle and Ian Forester as used car salesmen arguing over a commission
Kathy Logelin and Ian Forester (on floor) as used car salespersons having a tough time
Craig Spidle as Howard, the best used car salesman in town

3 Responses

  1. Correction: The actor that plays the role of Robin is KATHY LOGELIN. In the body of your review, you have you incorrectly listed Laurie Larson as the actor who plays the character of Robin. And then in the cast list you incorrectly listed the actor as Keith Logelin.

  2. Oops – sorry Steve. I just made the corrections. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. […] Dramatist’s world-premiere of Bill Jepsen’s  ”Cadillac”. (see my review here).  And I definitely am not the only theatre critic with this viewpoint.  It makes sense then, […]

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