REVIEW: In Love’s Bright Coils (Genesis Theatre)

Does the way we communicate affect the way we love?

 

 For Web (2 of 4)

  
Genesis Ensemble presents
 
In Love’s Bright Coils
   
Written by The Genesis Ensemble
Directed by Kat Paddock
at The Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton (map)
through August 30th  |  tickets: $10  |  more info

reviewed by Allegra Gallian 

Relationships are complicated. Depending on what side a person is on, it can be the greatest adventure or the cruelest fate. Either way, people crave love and affection, often communicating their feelings through the written word. Genesis Ensemble have taken this notion and used it to form their new, original piece In Love’s Bright Coils (the title based on a poem by E.B. White). Directed by Kat Paddock, this experimental piece based on found work seeks to answer the question, “Does the way we communicate affect the way we love?”

For Web (1 of 4) There’s a sense of theatricality even before entering the performance space. The Charnel House is loaded with character and charm. Before the show begins, the audience is led down a hallway lined with letters, text messages, Facebook messages and other types of correspondence. Entering the theatre, the actor’s are already on, filling the space with simultaneous readings of these messages as the audience takes their seats. It’s a sensory overload in a good sense, keeping the eyes moving about the room as this word cluster encapsulates the audience.

In Love’s Bright Coils then officially begins – opening on John and Abigail Adams reading letters they’ve sent each other; then flashing to present time with an angry man (Chris Acevedo) being broken up with through email. His emotions are clearly right at the surface and it’s evident that he understands the character is near breaking point.

The show switches back and forth between earlier times (late 1800’s, 1920’s and 1960’s) with handwritten letters and post mail correspondence to currents times (Facebook, blogs and text messages). The scenes feel a bit disjointed as they jump between time periods, causing one to be momentarily pulled out of the action. Additionally, within the older time period pieces, some of the actors have trouble connecting with the words of the letters, thus losing characterization in the process. More of a back story feels necessary with these vignettes because the letters and actions don’t offer a clear enough explanation. It might make more sense to set the action chronologically – not only would this inform us on how people relate over time, but we’d also experience how communications evolved and what this does to relationships.

The stage throughout the show is bare with a multimedia backdrop, displaying dates, logos and images. The multimedia adds another layer, increasing the interest in what’s occurring on stage. It also acts as a transitional piece, helping to somewhat smooth out the switches between time periods.

A present day scene based on LiveJounal posts is a riot. In a short amount of time, McKenzie Gerber’s character has a clear arch with a fleshed out back-story, which proves to be quite funny. Gerber also moves throughout the space, taking his scene off the stage, which helps the sketch grow as he delves further into the reality of the character.

Karie Miller offers an interesting portrayal of a woman’s careening Facebook addiction, becoming increasingly scattered and spread too thin until her “relationship status” goes from “in a relationship” to “single and unfriended.” Miller fully embodies this social networking addiction and is present in the scene, keeping the audience engaged.

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Another stand-out vignette comes from present day as well. Two women (Amanda Jane Dunne and Natalie Burtney) have just gone on their first date. Once home, Burtney’s character sends a post-date text. Having yet to receive a response the next day, she spirals into a state of temporary insanity, agonizing over the one meeting, until finally she receives a reply. The scene is wonderfully relatable to the audience, and what comes to mind is, “It’s funny because it’s true” – if we haven’t experienced this personally, then we probably know someone who has. Paddock and Dunne completely embody the characters and portray real, raw emotions that radiate into the audience.

Throughout In Love’s Bright Coils, a man, dressed in black, appears as a messenger and the vocalization of different character’s inner thoughts. Played by Jake Carr, this character is often confusing. In some scenes his purpose is clear as he announces blog posts, email subjects, text messages and instant messages. At other times, however, his character adds nothing save for distraction, once again pulling us away from the main action.

Overall, it’s nice to see Genesis taking these risks. This is a hugely unique show, which is a good thing. The trouble with risks, however, is that sometimes things don’t work out. But by not playing it safe, the ensemble is free to explore new territory, making some very impressionable discoveries.

   
   
Rating: ★★½
   
   

 

For Web (4 of 4) For Web (4 of 4) For Web (4 of 4) For Web (4 of 4)

In Love’s Bright Coils plays at the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton. The show plays on Friday/Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm through August 30. Tickets are $10, and can be reserved by sending an e-mail to genesis.ensemble@gmail.com.

   
   

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Chicago Fringe Festival announces Pilsen play line-up

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CHICAGO FRINGE FESTIVAL 2010

Pilsen Lineup and Venues, September 1st – 5th

 

The Chicago Fringe Festival has announced the complete lineup for its inaugural performing arts festival, slated for September 1st through the 5th in the Pilsen neighborhood. In the spirit of fringe festivals worldwide, 46 productions were selected by lottery from a total of 156 applicants. The final schedule will be released on August 1, 2010.

13 states will be represented at the uncensored festival, including New York, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado and Nevada. In addition, 2 international productions will make an appearance at the festival, with works from Israel and Canada making their Chicago debut. All told, 198 performers will participate in this landmark event.

Local Chicago artists will have a strong showing at the festival, with many acts looking forward to performing for a hometown crowd. New Millennium Theatre Company will present a revival of The Texas Chainsaw Musical, directed by Artistic Director Chad Wise. Genesis Ensemble, a two-year-old performance collective, will present sweet, half-darkness.

"Pilsen’s vitality and connection to the arts made it a natural fit for the festival," says Executive Director and Founder, Sarah Mikayla Brown. "We’re excited to push both artistic and geographical boundaries as we introduce our audience to new works in what may be a new neighborhood to them."

Fringe Central

At the heart of the festivities will be Fringe Central, located near Racine and 18th Street. Live music, entertainment and outdoor exhibits will be accompanied by delicious food provided by local favorite Honky Tonk BBQ. "Fringe Central will be ground zero for participants and audience alike to kick back, relax, and enjoy thesights and sounds of Pilsen. We’re excited to provide a place where folks can share ideas, network and just enjoy good company," says Associate Producer Vinnie Lacey.

Fringe Central will also play host to the Chicago Fringe Preview Party on August 28, 2010. Attendees will get an early taste of festival offerings as selected performers preview their Chicago Fringe productions.

8 Venues

All eight venues have been announced, including the Chicago Art Department Gallery, Dream Theatre, Temple Gallery, EP Theater, Chicago Arts District Galleries, Casa Aztlan and Simone’s Bar. Six of the venues are non-traditional spaces, and the Festival is currently raising capital to ensure premium flooring, lighting, sound equipment and technicians are in place to transform each space into a premiere performance venue.

MidwestFringe Circuit

The Chicago Fringe Festival will also mark the last stop of the first annual MidwestFringe Circuit, featuring three other American fringe festivals: Kansas City, Minnesota and Indianapolis. Four productions from each festival were selected by lottery to tour all four cities.


Guarenteed production slots at the 2010 Chicago Fringe Festival:

 

LOCAL

  • Shanna Shrum – Skinny Dipping – Not Your Mama’s One Woman Show!
  • Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre – Moliere Than Thou
  • Lincoln Square TheatreThe Parenticide Club
  • Shakura World Theatre – Columbine & Roses
  • Piel Morena Contemporary Dance – Machito Pichon
  • Rebecca Kling – Uncovering the Mirrors
  • 2nd Story TheatreCabinalysis… or, Build Your Own Damn Cabin!
  • Citadel Theatre Company5 Times 10 – A Collection of 10 Minutes Plays
  • Les Enfants Terribles – Believe in Nothing, Mock Everything
  • The Consortium Project – Knee-Jerk
  • Megan Rhyme – Inner Cartography
  • Ripettes Burlesque – The Ripettes Burlesque in… Peter Panties: A Neverland Burlesque
  • Hubris ProductionsAnnee Pocalypse
  • The Anatomy Collective – TBD – Untitled Anatomy Collective Project
  • New Millenium Theatre  – The Texas Chainsaw Musical
  • No Small Productions – What To Expect
  • Weber & Einstein – Please Love Me, High School Boyfriend
  • Jason Economus – The Steve Show
  • Genesis Ensemblesweet, half-darkness
  • Terra Mysterium – Finding Eleusis
  • Patchwork Woman Performance – Bridges
  • The Hollow Tree – Scenes of a Love Like Nature
  • The Talking Cure – The Talking Cure Presents

NON-LOCAL

  • Theater Undeclared – Grind: The Musical
  • Swanderwoman Productions – Driving the Body Back
  • No Snowcones Productions – That Greek Thing
  • Jeff Kreisler & Up Top Productions – Get Rich Cheating
  • Meddlin’ Productions – Girls and Dolls
  • Adam Theater – Hansel & Gretel the end of a fairy tale
  • Terri Cyrmes – Single Girl in a Gay Man’s World
  • Pantea Productions – Silken Veils
  • Nicole Kearney Productions – And Ya Don’t Stop a hip hop play
  • Les Kurkendaal – Christmas in Bakersfield
  • RE/Dance – The Lonely Visitors
  • Paul Diem – Mulatto Child – Voices From the Margins
  • Evan O’Sullivan – Evan O’Television Presents: Double Negatives
  • BITE Theatre – KRAIGSLIST
  • La Rinascita – The Fugitives
  • Howard Petrick – Rambo: The Missing Years
  • Gemma Wilcox – The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over
  • Opium, Fireworks and Lead – Exhausted Paint: The Death of Van Gogh
  • Patrick Devine – Breaking Down in America
  • Maire Clerkin The Bad Arm – Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer
  • And Giggles Productions – The Playdaters
  • Tiberius Productions Touch My App
  • What’s a Girl to Do Productions – Drunk with Hope in Chicago

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