Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, March 1

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Going Door to Door for the 51st Ward The Neo-Futurist's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents gets my vote »

Theater Wed Oct 10 2012

Live Wire Chicago's The Mistakes Madeline Made


(left to right) Joel Ewing and Hilary Williams in LiveWire Chicago Theatre's production of The Mistakes Madeline Made by Elizabeth Meriwether, directed by Krista D'Agostino. Photo by Ryan Bourque.

Thirty-nine minutes into The Mistakes Madeline Made, and I began to think that maybe I'd been hoodwinked into some sarcastic staged version of writer Elizabeth Meriwether's hit FOX TV series "New Girl", which as with the beginnings of TMMM, is funny and sharp, but a big ol' ball of popcorn for the 5-Hour Energy generation. And I can fold laundry as I watch it, something I can't do in a theater.

And then, the roof fell in. Madeline peels the dirt off to reveal its true grime underneath its superficial dirt.

Edna (Hilary Williams) is hired on as junior personal assistant to Beth (Kristin Collins) to tend to the needs of a very wealthy and very pampered six-year old boy, Josh. The pay is good, the work environment pristinely clean and organized - even boss Beth holds it all in, whatever "it" is, keeping duty and emotions in debri-free and hidden away during the workday. The only concerns are meeting the needs and wants of the unseen Josh, making certain than he gets the right shoes and the right handiwipes, his sensitive skin can only tolerate one brand, which must be special ordered and available for use every day at 2:35pm, when Edna goes home to find her brother Buddy (Joel Ewing) camped out in her bathtub. Edna tells him that he smells like garbage -- his body odor almost unbearable. Buddy has been gone a long time, and Edna embraces him through the stench of his flesh, holding onto Buddy for life until Buddy pries her loose and sends Edna on her way to the sterile environs of her employer and the hyper-restrained order and duty of supervisor Beth.

Work is hell for Edna, with Beth applying cleanliness, alignment and order to every nook and cranny of the office and the supplies needed to take care of Josh's every need, two minutes before Josh needs it. As Beth bathes in the glow of the most benign acknowledgements from Josh's mother Judith, it becomes apparent to Beth that something smells, and the smell - first a waft of mustiness, building up to an overwhelming stench, Beth benignly attempts to avoid the collision course that is Edna's stench versus Beth's perfect office setting.

The smell of Edna grows, and every evening she returns home to meet Buddy in the bathtub. As she begs him to bathe, reminds him how horrid he smells, he begs her to leave him be, to continue with work and school, to find a real boyfriend, other than street-poets and bar hookups (Fred Geyer). Edna returns to her office each day, bonding with Wilson (Chris Zdenek), her OCD/man-child co-worker, who helps Edna upset the delicate balance that Beth has spent years and gone through several assistants bringing to delicate perfection by stealing the lone case of Josh's much needed specialty handiwipes.

Edna wants Buddy to leave the bathtub and the bathroom, but stay and heal himself from his ablutophobia - fear of bathing. She reminds him that his smell is becoming more and more wretched as time passes. She spends her evenings in her bathroom, trying to extrapolate Buddy from the tub, imploring him to return to his job as war correspondent, but Buddy will not move, and his dirt and stench make transfer to Edna.

Wilson ignores the stink of Edna - he's sweet on her. Beth continues to drop hints about the "awful smell", politely demanding that Edna "seek out" the smell and take action to correct it, before Beth has to take matters into her own hands and "remove" the offending order, no matter how much she has come to like and appreciate Edna as an assistant. Edna and Wilson swing into action, hiding the handiwipes from Beth just before Josh's piano lessons, driving Beth to uncharacteristic distraction and her emotional breaking point. It's the handiwipe war that causes Edna to fall apart, and admit to herself that she must finally wash herself of the past, as Wilson stays by her side to comfort her that she can never wash herself of life's memories.

Director Krista D'Agostino delivers playwright Meriwether's deceptively complex comedy-drama to full fruition. Like Edna's waking and office life, TMMM bends and curves, starting its journey as a well-lit sitcom, and reaching a destination of the fog of war, those left behind, and what those left behind face living in a world where resolve comes in a 22-minute format, and all things dear, including family, are expected to be washed away clean. The message becomes clear, and Live Wire's ensemble admirably adjudicates the message.

The Mistakes Madeline Made runs through November 3 at the Greenhouse Theater.

GB store
GB store

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 »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15