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Tuesday, March 5

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Theatre Thu May 27 2010

Theatre Seven of Chicago Presents Hunting and Gathering


Theatre Seven's production of Brooke Berman's Hunting and Gathering is a disappointing interpretation of an inviting storyline. Although the setting is New York City, this play could be plopped into any Chicago neighborhood as twenty and thirty-somethings repeatedly pack their life into boxes and search for new apartments and new beginnings. With the annual moving season descending upon our own city, I found myself immediately relating to the idea of searching for something through location- if only the characters had supported that connection.

Ruth, played by Tracey Kaplan, is a gatherer; translation- she's desperate. Desperate for love, and desperate for an escape from her nomadic lifestyle, she throws herself into relationships before they exist, and packs her things before a lease is signed. Ruth's quirkiness was endearing, but simultaneously annoying. Her path was leading to such an obvious place, that she became that oblivious friend who you just want to shake some sense into.

Bess, played by Paige Collins, is a hunter; translation- she's naïve enough to go after what she wants without any consideration for consequences. Bess is feisty and self-centered, and usually fun to watch- until she's making out with Marchael Salinas' character, Jesse, at which point the lack of chemistry is downright uncomfortable. Jesse is her nerdy, recently divorced professor. I suppose the relationship is supposed to be awkward- Bess is really just looking for an escape from her roommates and Jesse is rebounding from his recent affair and subsequent ex-wife, but some evidence of attraction would have been nice.

Two TVs added some multi-media experience to the production. At times successfully, they presented Bess on a Skype-like program with her parents, explored the wonders of Craigslist ads and mapquested explorations of the different neighborhoods that the characters found themselves. Other times, the screens acted as crutches to the stumbling lines of actors as superfluous text offered explanations to the obvious. Thanks to the closed captioning, the audience is told that Ruth is slightly drunk when she returns from the bar. Thank goodness, because I sure couldn't tell...

Hunting and Gathering will likely improve as the production goes on. Some quick shooting line segments should work themselves out of the bumbling awkwardness of opening night, but I doubt they'll get rid of those silly TVs. I left the show with a satisfied connection to the moral of the story- home is what you make it, and the journey is just as important as the destination. In this case however, the journey was rocky and the destination didn't quite make up for it.

Hunting and Gathering runs at Greenhouse Theatre Center until June 27.

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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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