Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Night at the Theatre with Perfect Seasoning

Last night had been the Midwest premiere of Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Night Season, as performed by Vitalist Theatre.

I went in not knowing any information about it. Okay, I’m lying. I knew the set. And a few bits of “theatre magic” that would happen. Oh, also that Yeats factored in somehow, as per watching Sparrow’s (as always) stunning and intricate theatre entrance installation going up. But as for the plot and story… just what the poster teases.

Short review: Go. It’s a true delight. I know for sure that I will see it again. At least once.

This play truly has it all. You will laugh outright, feel a tear forming in your eye, have your heartstings tugged (both romantically and emotionally) and be swept away into the delicate and heavy lives of the characters.

In fact, the characters are what struck me first about this heartwarming tale. Right from the start it’s clear that the personas who play out their lives on stage are people you want to get to know. Wacky is not the right word. Lovingly and compellingly screwed up, perhaps?

The Night Season will carry you along the personal journeys of each member of an Irish family who take in a boarder. Each of them has a personal demon to exorcize. Each has a place they want to be in their lives which seems far beyond their reach. Luckily for us, these complex and wonderful characters are not beyond the reach of the actors. As can be expected from a Vitalist show, top notch performances come from each member of the cast.

The set and lighting are remarkable. With just a quick wash of color, or subtle but dazzling projections and some moving (folding, even) constructions, we are easily and convincingly transported from the Irish home to a beach to a library.

As you watch this play you will find it difficult to absorb all of its many layers, given how charming and tender the unfolding events can be. That’s meant as a compliment. And it will be a pleasure to revisit the story in order to pick up on the nuances. If not for the story itself, then for the marvelous personas that comprise it.

On the way home, Laughter, Bart and I found ourselves discussing various aspects of the play. That’s always a good sign, isn’t it? To be so very interested in exploring the depth of a story/show further? We wondered about the parts that were never fully explained. Don’t take that as a detrimental comment, for the incident we wondered about merely led to a deeper understanding of the story as a whole. There’s always room for the audience to bring its own food for thought to the table. And this one produces quite a feast. This Irish tale is no small potatoes. (Sorry, sorry, couldn’t stop myself.)

Vitalist Theatre’s The Night Season is everything a night at the theatre should be.
If you’re in the Chicago area, be sure and attend.

Information on the show's run can be found here.

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