Review: THIS TRAIN (16th Street Theater at Steppenwolf)

An expressive train ride full of colorful humanity

 

this-train

   
16th Street Theater presents
  
THIS TRAIN
   
Written and performed by Tony Fitzpatrick
Directed by
Ann Filmer
at Steppenwolf’s
Merle Reskin Garage Theatre (map)
through August 1st  |  tickets: $22  |  more info

reviewed by Katy Walsh

Imagine riding the Red Line with Michael Moore, John Goodman and Mother Theresa to the Morse Stop to decipher the graffiti, enjoy the art and give money to the poor while a street musician serenaded. 16th Street Theater presents THIS TRAIN at Steppenwolf’s Merle Reskin Garage Theatre. It’s a multi-media experience written and performed by artist, poet, actor Tony Fitzpatrick. The show is a collection of this-train3 expression; projected images of art accompanied by sung verse intermingled with real life tales of vagabonds through history and on Damen Avenue. This decoupage of the plight of the hobo uses political rants and amusing side stories to get at the core illustration: ‘the greatest crime in this country is to be poor.’ With the current economic climate, THIS TRAIN is a timely ride connecting beyond people’s stations in life.

THIS TRAIN is Tony Fitzpatrick’s one hobo show. A musician trio and a Paul Shaffer-look-a-like sidekick are present but they are more props in ‘Tony’s World.’ Fitzpatrick shares personal stories of his journey as an artistic drifter. Channeling a new age hobo confidence, he likes to be paid first and in cash. Mimicking his Ukraine neighbor, Studs Terkel, or a plethora of homeless visitors to his studio, Fitzpatrick is a masterful storyteller creating visuals from his word choices. What keeps the show from being a vanity showcase is Fitzpatrick’s vulnerability, compassion and genuine fondness for the poor. He knows the impoverished by name. ‘I’m two paychecks away from being Tony and one drink away from being Wayne.’ Along with his stories, the audience gets glimpses of his art. Pictures of his art are projected with music accompaniment and Fitzpatrick’s recorded poetry. The art is folksy abstract with the fusion graphics of skeletons, words and the hobo alphabet. Fitzpatrick’s proclamations of ‘language comes from art’ and ‘art is a labor of desire’ are represented in this auto-biographical ‘wonder’ choice where he fully loves and participates.

 

ThisTrain_SallyandJohn  ThisTrainEnsemble
this-train5 this-train2

Under the direction of Ann Filmer, ‘voiceover Tony’ and ‘real life Tony’ segments transition without a hitch. The show has an unrehearsed, authentic, stopover in ‘Tony’s World’ feel. The style seems gritty and spontaneous to match the content. For the projection segments, Kristin Reeves has created a video that uses movement, people, paintings and the written word as a vehicle synced perfectly with a pre-recorded Fitzpatrick narration or Kat Eggleston’s soulful singing. The effect is breaking up the commute watching YouTube videos on an I-pod.

Public transportation is not for everyone. But for those who appreciate the colorful humanity that makes any transit ride more entertaining, Fitzpatrick drives THIS TRAIN up close and personal. Catch THIS TRAIN off the Red Line Clybourn stop or hop the Blue Line to Big Cat Press, 2124 N. Damen, for daily encore presentations.

   
    
Rating: ★★★
   
  

Running Time: 100 minutes included a fifteen minute intermission

3 WORDS: Getting on the Brown Line, James describes the show with “Next Stop: Chicago.”

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Theater Thursday: Silk Road’s “Pangs of the Messiah”

Pangs of the Messiah  by Motti Lerner

Pierce Hall at the historic  Chicago Temple Building
77 W. Washington St., Chicago
 
SRTPPangsJoin Silk Road Theatre Project and MaiChef Cuisine for a Mediterranean inspired reception. Then stay for Motti Lerners breathtakingly powerful play, followed by what promises to be a lively a post-show discussion. Set in 2012 amidst the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, Motti Lerner’s Pangs of the Messiah is an apocalyptic yet fiercely humane drama about eight West Bank Jewish settlers pitted against an Israel they feel betrayed by. The play focuses on a religious family that finds itself torn between fighting to stay in their settlement and obeying their government’s decision to dismantle it. Left hanging in the balance is the legacy of their beliefs. 
Event begins at 6:30 p.m.
Show begins at 7:30 p.m.

maicheflogo

TICKETS ONLY $25
For reservations call 312.857.1234 x201 and mention “Theater Thursdays.”

Pangs of the Messiah, now performing at the Silk Road Theatre Project 

Pangs of the Messiah features a cast of eight, led by Bernie Beck and Susan Adler. The designers are Kurt Sharp (Set), Carol J. Blanchard (Costumes), Rebecca A. Barrett (Lighting), Robert Steel (Sound) and Mike Tutaj (Projections). The stage manager is Michelle Dane.

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