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Theatre Tue Feb 03 2009

Jon Langford's Goldbrick

Goldbrick Yando 3.jpg

In a theatrical collaboration with Walkabout Theater Company and Collaboraction, Chicago's own ageless indie rock icon Jon Langford pulled together pieces of his solo work, a Mekons song and a folk tune to create the story of an immigrant Everyman in the musical Goldbrick. The result is a moving and effective statement on the promise and peril of immigrating to America.

Larry Yando as Everyman inhabits a heartbreakingly optimistic Welshman who, after his mother's death, decides to stake his fortunes on a trip to the New World. I will admit to a swell of patriotism as upon his arrival in New York, the recitation of "Give me your tired, your poor..." had me a bit misty.

Through the ages and a series of hard manual labor jobs (including one critical job in Florida, "home of the newly wed and the nearly dead," Everyman finds himself on the wrong side of the job market, and in desperation takes a position along The Fence -- an immigrant working to keep out immigrants. His cool is finally blown by the sight of a young woman and her infant, both dead from the passage.

His partner, his foil and his conscience are all portrayed by Tawny Newsome, whose voice is a beautiful contrast to Yando's and who accurately speaks in more dialects than Chicago has neighborhoods.

The grimy, sparse set designed by rising talent Courtney O'Neil is enhanced with projections on the back wall and floor, along with a gratuitous live camera shot from a sink of water. Neat to watch, but I'm unsure how much it enhanced the storytelling. Plus it provided us with a bit too close a look at Yando's head cold, as a drop of snot clung perilously to the tip of his nose while he hovered over the sink/camera. But, one must admire his commitment to the moment.

Although watching someone traverse the path from idealist to cynic can be disheartening, Langford's music provides enough edge and bounce to keep us out of the pit of despair, while the book, written by Loren Crawford, is able to make effective grand political statements by deeply personalizing the experience.

Goldbrick is running at The Building Stage, 1044 W. Kinzie St., until March 1. Visit Collaboraction's website for tickets.

 
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Joe Angio / October 26, 2010 11:45 AM

fans of jon and the mekons: please swing by my facebook page for info on the doc i'm making on the mekons. "like it" and you'll be in the loop on updates, release dates, screenings, etc.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Revenge-of-the-Mekons/158606240816590

Joe Angio / November 3, 2010 2:41 PM

The Revenge of the Mekons fundraising campaign is live on Kickstarter! Please check it out. Lots of great gifts & prizes!! Help pass the word by sharing the link. Thanks!
http://kck.st/9Is6ea

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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