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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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« The Art of Touring Stops at Johalla Projects on Friday Inception, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Wild Grass & The Living Wake »

Theatre Thu Jul 15 2010

Hesperia Makes us Sweat


Nick Freed and Natalie DiCristofano as Trick and Claudia. Photo by Tom McGrath.

When you sit down at Right Brain Project's new play, Hesperia, you may notice an uber-friendly barefooted actress scampering around the hot little black box of a theater, introducing herself to the audience members and thanking them for coming. If you're like me, you may think to yourself, "Huh? Is this a cult? Have I stumbled in on some sort of church service?" Then, upon inspection of your program, when you find the hymn printed on the back, you'll really start to sweat.

I think that's how they want you to feel. Hesperia is, after all, about the relationships between a group of young born-again Christians in a small Midwestern town. The second of three thematically-linked new dramas by Gapers Block's own Randall Colburn, Hesperia follows Claudia, (played by the uber-friendly barefooted actress, Natalie DiCristofano) a former pornstar-turned-born-again who is about to marry the adorably nerdy youth group leader, Trick (Nick Freed), when her ex-boyfriend/partner-in-porn/childhood best friend Ian (Billy Fenderson) shows up looking for a fresh start in life. He inadvertantly throws a monkey-wrench into the mix, reminding everyone of Claudia's past, simply by being there.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything by telling you that Claudia still marries Trick. There are no twists, no surprises, none of that (un)expected Hollywood stuff. Instead, we are given a more subtle story of change, redemption, sacrifice, and tolerance-- something the born-agains would be proud of. Not to say that there isn't drama. There's lots of drama. There's a good amount of crying, a bit of screaming, and a little more dry-humping than most of us are probably comfortable with. But I get the sense that this play is intended to make us a little uncomfortable.

Don't get me wrong, there's a ton of humor in Hesperia as well. There are a few solid-gold scenes with a pubescent youth-group kid, Aaron (played perfectly-awkwardly by Danny Mulae), that are absolutely hilarious (if not a bit embarassing).

The substance in Hesperia is in the dialogue. There is pretty much no set-- just a little black box with some smaller black boxes for furniture, five chairs, and some clamp lights. There's not a whole lot of plot, either. It's really all about the people-- about the acting. And the acting is quite good. Very realistic. I got the sense that the characters were pretty close to who the actors are in real life. And if I'm wrong, good for them for tricking me.

Regardless of how you feel about religion, sexuality, adolescence, or what-have-you, the bottom line is that Hesperia is a simple but powerful production for those of us who are not afraid to be a little uncomfortable for 80 minutes. You can see it at the RBP Rorschach Theatre in Ravenswood on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays now through August 14. For tickets call 773-750-2033 or email Click here for more information.

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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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