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Theatre Mon Jul 12 2010

Review: Daddy Long Legs @ Bruised Orange Theater Company


Photo by Ann Sonneville

It's hard to write about Daddy Long Legs without commenting on the scenery. Bruised Orange has taken their latest out of the tight black boxes most other fringe companies call home and to the beach (Leone Beach, to be specific, just east of Touhy and Sheridan). Were this a frothy cocktail of beach-bum shenanigans this decision would seem natural, but artistic director Clint Sheffer's script is a pulpy, noirish period piece with twisty, tough-guy language and plenty of combat. It's a bold move, to be sure, offering delights and frustrations in equal measure.

Set in 1929, Sheffer's play concerns Bobby and Mars (Sheffer and John Arthur Lewis), two thugs who meet on the Chicago lakefront to settle a score. Mars brings with him a potato sack full of body parts, and the victim may or may not be the woman at the center of their web. It's a cool setup, but while Sheffer's script has flashes of intrigue, there are patches where it just doesn't compare to the majesty of the Chicago lakefront. And when every line is crucial, and the tables are constantly being turned, it can become difficult to keep up, especially with the constant crashing of the surf (not to mention the distant chatter of passing beachcombers). The actors keep it moving, though, and when Sheffer and Lewis aren't struggling through way through clumsy fight choreography, they hit just the right notes, effectively conveying a heightened style of toughness that's as fun as it is menacing.

One of the givens of site-specific theater is that one's enjoyment is inevitably influenced by the environment surrounding them. Weather-wise, this past Saturday was absolutely perfect. The early evening was warm, not hot, and though lightning flashed in the distance, it never felt as if a storm was on the way. The beach setting also offers a rare sort of physical authenticity; by the end, the cast looks visibly beaten, all wet and sandy, and there were even times when the surf itself seemed to intensify with the action. You won't find that in a black box. You can't control nature (or the cries of children), so, even if you find it in the environment instead of the script, come prepared for an unpredictable evening.

Daddy Long Legs runs July 10 through August 1, Saturdays and Sundays at 6pm. Performances are held at Leone Beach Park, just east of Touhy and Sheridan. Tickets are $15 or pay-what-you-can and you can make reservations by calling 773-336-2682. Tickets may also be available beginning at 5:45pm each night prior to the show.

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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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