REVIEW: Evolution/Creation (Quest Theatre Ensemble)

Evolution/Creation is Unusual/Fascinating

 Evolution/Creation

Quest Theatre Ensemble presents:

Evolution/Creation

 

Written and directed by Andrew Park
Music by
Scott Lamps
Musical direction by Gary Powell
At Quest Blue Theatre, 1609 W. Gregory
Thru March 28th (more info)

by Katy Walsh

Science/Religion. Explosion/Organic. Inevitable/Mystical. Quest Theatre presents Evolution/Creation, a theatrical experience for the senses. Upon arrival at the Quest Blue Theatre, each audience member receives a red or green wristband. The red tags enter the doorway marked “Evolution.” The green tags go to door #2, “Creation.” evolution4The theatre has been split into two sides with a nine member orchestra straddling the center dividing line. Two different plays perform simultaneously with shared music. After the intermission, the audience goes through the opposite assigned door to experience the flip side. With no spoken dialogue, Evolution/Creation is all about innovative imagery set to music. The show starts with dramatic Latin chorale singing  from scientists and monk types on each stage. They are separated by the band. As the actors stand from the kneeling position, the orchestra sits. Curtains rise on either side. The band and the other stage are no longer visible. In the beginning, there was….

First up, Creation! It’s the Genesis story plus the Noah tale to tell the origins of how the world began and began again. The cast is dressed in black with oversized paper mache heads. The strong religious overtones are represented with the Creator’s huge hands. Each day’s goal is announced with parchment type scrolls. Each day’s success is demonstrated with puppetry and nature. It’s a wholesome pageantry of seasons, stars, horses and other organic elements integrated in a sequential order of occurrence. Adam and Eve arrive on the scene, eat an apple and Eden is destroyed. The destruction continues with a flood survived by Noah and his animal selection. When the rain stops, creation the sequel happens again. The Creation play has a slow pacing innocence with familiar simplicity.

Later, Evolution! It’s the big bang version of how life started from nothing. Initially, a dancer clad in red pieces together ribbons to spell out “Love” and then continues until it spells “Evolve.” The cast is dressed in black with matching hoods. Darkness is a strong theme for the unknown. Rain, smoke, strobe/black lights are the multiple evolution3 techniques used to illustrate different advancements in life forms: lights to amoebas to dinosaurs. The narration of evolution is a projection of the process’ description over billions of years. Evolution is the edgier play representing a stark happenstance explanation of the world.

Both shows are the ultimate visual of the juxtaposition in these competing theories: science vs religion. One of the best moments occurs when Evolution briefly shows an overlap between theories on the monkey to human spectrum. Written and directed by Andrew Park, this is a fascinatingly unusual theatrical experience. It’s the coordination of two plays, eighteen cast members, and a nine piece orchestra, composed by Scott Lamps and directed by Gary Powell. It’s a show that could easily be viewed multiple times to determine all the nuisances. I’m still puzzling over the music score. Practically speaking, it seems like it has to be the same for both shows. But the plays are so different, the music must be too. I continue to be intrigued….

In their mission to “Inform, Delight, Inspire and Unite” the community, Quest Theatre experiences are free/donation. The audience is an eclectic combination of young/old. Families have an affordable opportunity/privilege. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cell phones that disrupted the performances’ flow on Saturday night. It was the constant chatter of two (8-10 year old) girls. NOTE to parents: If your children haven’t evolved into respectful audience members, you need to stick to children’s theatre or create a stay-at-home family night.

Rating: ★★★

 

Running Time: 80 minutes includes a ten minute intermission and a ten minute delayed start. Production is free – reservations recommended. (make reservation)

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Review: Theo Ubique’s “Man of La Mancha”

lamanchapostcard

Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents:

Man of La Mancha

Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Directed by David Heimann
Music Directed by Ethan Deppe
Thru November 22nd (buy tickets)

reviewed by Katy Walsh

lamancha21 With a plunger for a sword and a bowl for a helmet, Cervantes proclaims he is the knight, Don Quixote. Sounds crazy? Set in a mental institution, the asylum’s newest inmate, Cervantes, must convince a jury of his peers that he is not crazy. Man of La Mancha, then, is a play within a play. Don Quixote tells his tale of slaying dragons (windmills), storming castles (the local inn) and rescuing a lady in distress (the local whore) to prove his identity. From the playwright  (Dale Wasserman), who penned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the man (and No Exit Café owner Michael James), whose father first produced the 1965 Broadway version, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents this musical featuring a woman as the Man of La Mancha.

Instead of going in a Victor/Victoria direction – a  woman believing she is a man believing she’s a different man – this production of Man of La Mancha introduces Danielle Brothers (Cervantes/Don Quixote) as simply a man. Brothers does an excellent job of sustaining that illusion. With a formal elocution, she portrays a man of chivalry and honor from days gone by. There are only sporadic moments of …oh right, Brothers is a woman… during some of the songs. Singing in a range not her norm, Brothers hits the notes but loses a little power on the projection. This is most apparent when she is singing with her sidekick Sancho (Anthony John Lawrence Apodaca). Accompanied by a live orchestra, the cast’s amazing singing leads to involuntary shoulder dancing and humming. “To Dream the Impossible Dream” prompts hope and empowerment within a crazy world. This light hearted musical energy is briefly interrupted with “The Abduction” song. More precise, “The Rape” song is a little startlingly dramatic to the overall enjoyment of crazy people’s antics.

lamancha1 Bringing back dinner theatre, Theo Ubique provides a dinner option for an additional $23. But don’t go for the food! Salad, frittata, and banana bread isn’t a bad three course meal. It’s just not a great one. Go for the opportunity to experience the actors already in character on stage and serving the meal. Apodaca is our repeat server (also served us in the company’s Jeff Award-winning Evita). Apodaca warns us to keep an eye on our silverware around the inmates. During the dinner hour, it’s fascinating to observe the interpretations of insanity. Daniel Waters (Padre) was particularly intriguing (I want to say creepy but that doesn’t sound politically correct) as he sat on the stage rocking. Go crazy and over tip! Chicago actors as servers is one of my favorite charities to support.

 

Rating: «««

 

Aside: The man who is perfectly at home in any asylum, Dick describes the show as crazy, romantic and cool.

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