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Theater Shows
Caucasian Chalk Circle

A Brecht classic with an original score.

centerstage reviewed this performanceReviewed by Centerstage!Go Chicago!

Venue:

Styles

Related Info:
Official website

Performances
Closes February 9, 2013

Friday8 p.m.
Saturday8 p.m.
Sunday3 p.m.
Thursday8 p.m.

reviewed performanceCenterstage Show Review
Reviewer: Alex Huntsberger
Friday Jan 18, 2013

Bertol Brecht is not a writer who leaves people on the fence. When told that some company is reviving one of his plays, most people respond with either an eye roll or a squeal of glee. His plays are long, joke-filled, shamelessly opinionated allegories. They are not elegant. They are not seamless. But they are utterly distinctive and so original as to seem trite, if only because every other play like them is directly ripping them off. And even though I would not call myself a fan of his (an eye roller, not a squealer), it is quite apparent that director Ed Rutherford has mounted a finely serviceable adaptation of his play, “Caucasian Chalk Circle.” In the wake of an armed revolution having consumed the capital of Grusinia, an imaginary Caucasian state, servant maid Grusha (Sara Gorsky) escapes into the wilderness clutching the infant son of the recently beheaded governor. Eluding violent gangs of soldiers, Grusha escapes to a distant mountain village and raises that child as her own, all the while awaiting the return of her love, Simon (Josh Nordmark) from the Persian War. But when her child’s birth mother (Jennifer Roehm) arrives to claim her son and heir and (more importantly) meal ticket, it is left to the mercy of a mad judge named Azdak (Teddy Lance) to determine the true meaning of the word “mother.” In the role of the drunken, lascivious Azdak, Lance practically walks away with the shows second half. He brings, a lithe prancing chaos to the stage that sets the place on fire, in a way that Brecht, with his careful messaging rarely does. Gorsky does a fine job carrying much of the show, but her Grusha never becomes flesh and blood quite like Azdak does. Cary Davenport, who plays the Lead Singer and serves as the play’s musical narrator also acquits himself nicely, employing a subtle, wry charm to nudge the plot along. The original score, composed by Matt Kahler, is the show’s strongest element. Mixing traditional folk music with a more modern, emotional indie sound, Kahler’s score keeps the show from feeling like a museum piece. There is urgency there, a feeling of relevance that the rest of the show lacks. For how well crafted the set, the lights, the sound and the performances feel, the production never feels needed. It’s just there. And I guess, for this reviewer, that wasn’t quite good enough.

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