Review: Gorilla Tango’s “The 24-Hour Plays: Chicago”

24 hour_bryan and cast

The 24 Hour Plays: Chicago
at Gorilla Tango Theatre

Reviewed by Timothy McGuire

Just Say Yes Entertainment has brought The 24 Hour Plays from New York back to Chicago. The 24 Hour Plays are a process in which a group of writers, actresses/actors, directors and crew people work together to create five plays from scratch and within only 24 hours of conception they perform them live at Gorilla Tango Theatre.

Without knowing any details about the performances, the draw to these Monday night shows is the risk that the performers are taking. Can they memorize their lines? Has the cast created any chemistry after working together for just one day? Can the writers guide the performers or will the actors be forced to improvise some of the crucial dialogue? Most at doubt, can they present a quality performance with such limited rehearsal time?

24 hour_Daughters 1-1[1] Overall Gorilla Tango and Just Say Yes Entertainment put on a fun weekday escape for a casual crowd of young adults and middle aged couples. The audience is mostly from the local Bucktown neighborhood, and the relaxed atmosphere and fair priced Miller Lites encourage friendly conversation throughout the audience. The dialogues were well written and performances smoothly delivered, although most of them lacked depth.

Most of the plays were written to include some sort of ironic twist at the end. The haste in developing a plot fast enough to twist the ending created some confusion as to the various themes within the plays. The characters lacked development and the storylines are changed so fast that the audience did not have a chance to become emotionally engaged. Some of the performances lacked necessary physical emotion, especially in many of the actor’s facial expressions. Instead of creating a relationship with the audience, most of the plays resorted to gimmicks to create an impact with the viewers. These shortcomings are to be expected with only 24 hours to create and prepare the performance, but one show stood out amongst the others and did find the depth and beauty of its characters.

The Daughters of Doherty was creatively written by Reina Hardy. The script consisted of various themes which seem to branch off of each other into new questions and ideas. Her characters had a history to them, and a personality in their comments. The direction of Zach Wilson did not force the plot along or try to rush to explain every detail. He let the untold facts create mystery in Hardy’s characters and gave the audience the opportunity to independently relate to them. I only wish I could see a full production of this play so I can have a better understanding of the emotional tension that hung over this scene.

In The Daughters of Doherty three half-sisters are preparing a dance for the youngest one’s wedding day. The significance of this reunion is that they are not familiar with each other. They just recently found out that they share the same father. Amanda Goodyear plays the resistant sister. She smokes a cigarette, ignoring her sisters futile dance rehearsals, and prefers to engage in conversation with her father (Bill Merker) instead of joining in on the preparations. The dialogue between Amanda and her father may be cold, but there is a trust and sincere understanding between them. Their relationship allows for the snotty honesty that delivers terrific jokes centered on her drug addiction. The close relationship between Amanda and her father is evident, although throughout the scene you can feel something sad and hidden beneath the conversation. In the obligatory twist (though, in this instance, well-written) we find out that the relationship between Amanda and father are not at all what we thought.

Amanda Goodyear fully absorbed this character, and appeared at ease with the complicated personality of her role. With the assistance of Reina Hardy’s brilliant script, Amanda’s performance stood out among all others Monday night. In just 24 hours she created a complicated, thought-provoking young adult that impacted the audience.

gtt1 Not every performance is going to “knock your socks off” at The 24 Hour Plays. It is too complicated for even the most talented cast to produce something with consistent quality in just 24 hours; although, the format does offer the opportunity to discover that new “up and comer” and special talent that possesses the ability to rise to such a pressure filled occasion.

Rating: Recommended

What: The 24 Hour Plays: Chicago
Where: Gorilla Tango Theatre
When: Monday nights (6/15 and 6/22)
Tickets: $10 – call 773-598-4549