Saturday, August 30

Gapers Block

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

« TV One's "Unsung: Hollywood" Features Late Comedian and Chicago Native Robin Harris East of the Que Village (雀村往东): The Brightest Star in China »

Theater Wed Mar 05 2014

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Family Farce: Les Parents Terribles at The Artistic Home

Photo by Anthony Acardi.

The Artistic Home is staging Les Parents Terribles, a sexy family farce by Jean Cocteau that will warm you up in this long deep-freeze winter. Director John Mossman keeps his five actors moving at a frenetic pace as he tells the story of one family's tangled love lives. The play begins manically and never slows down.

Kathy Scambiatterra plays Yvonne, an unhealthy or hypochondriac mother who wants to keep her 22-year-old son, Michael (Julian Hester), entwined in maternal affection. Possibly too much maternal affection. She's horrified when she finds out that Michael is in love with Madeleine (Allie Long), a bookbinder. Her husband George (Frank Nall) is an inventor who is building an "underwater submachine gun." And he's been having an affair with Madeleine, but doesn't want Michael to know that.

Organized and orderly Aunt Leo (Miranda Zola) who lives with the family anarchy, has always been in love with George and determines that she will find a way to unite the young lovers. She sighs at one point, "Who knows what lurks in this rag and bone shop of the heart?" George explains the gravity of the Michael-Madeleine situation by pointing out that Yvonne "would rather hold his corpse than see him in someone else's arms."

Each cast member performs with meticulous style and energy, but Hester does especially well as the just-past-adolescent boy-man Michael. Whether he's assuring his mother he still loves her or frolicking in Madeleine's bathtub, his performance is perfectly madcap. (The friend who accompanied me to this play said she was exhausted from watching him and needed to go home to rest.)

Corinne Bass' set design for the whirlwind three-act play changes from massively messy to severely sterile and back again. But the set doesn't have quite enough doors for Les Parents to be considered a true farce. The stage for, say, a classic Georges Feydeau farce will be designed with at least six doors; the action features romps and chases through boudoirs and salons, with frequent door slamming. Les Parents has only two doors but there is plenty of fast action and door slamming.

Hanna Wisner's costumes are perfectly suited for this 1930s Paris bourgeois family.

If a three-act, two-and-a-half-hour play seems long, do not fear. The time flies. Jeremy Sams' translation is witty and sharp and the actors deliver the dialogue skillfully.

I usually don't think of Jean Cocteau as a farceur. He was a multitalented artist: poet, novelist, playwright, designer and filmmaker and very influential in avant-garde art. His friends were writers and artists like Proust, Gide, Satie, Picasso and Modigliani, people whose work does not seem frivolous. And Cocteau's best-known work is probably the gorgeous 1946 film, La Belle et la Bête (a not-at-all-Disneyesque version of Beauty and the Beast).

Les Parents Terribles will run through April 13 at The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand Ave. Performances are Thursday through Sunday; times vary. Tickets are $28-32 and can be purchased online. See the theater website for more information.


Add a Comment

Please enter the letter w in the field below:

Live Comment Preview

Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

What then is to be made of the Hypocrites' new stage production, All Our Tragic? This massive opus, comprising all 32 surviving Greek tragedy plays re-written and directed by Sean Graney, lasts a staggering 12 hours, including intermissions and meal breaks. Ben and Mike go the distance.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Aug 29 2014

The November Man, Frank, As Above/So Below, Love Is Strange, Life of Crime, Bound By Flesh, To Be Takei & Me and You

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



Fri Aug 29 2014
The Cooke Book @ Lincoln Hall

Fri Aug 29 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Fri Aug 29 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival in Jefferson Park

Sat Aug 30 2014
The Cooke Book @ Lincoln Hall

Sat Aug 30 2014
Recombinant Stare Opening @ Spudnik Press

Sat Aug 30 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Sat Aug 30 2014
Remix Chicago @ Logan Square

Sat Aug 30 2014
All Our Tragic @ The Den Theatre

Sun Aug 31 2014
Oddball Comedy Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Sun Aug 31 2014
Remix Chicago @ Logan Square

Mon Sep 1 2014
Impress These Apes @ ComedySportz

Mon Sep 1 2014
The Unauthorized "Saved by the Bell" Story @ East Room

Mon Sep 1 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Tue Sep 2 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Wed Sep 3 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Thu Sep 4 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival in Jefferson Park

Thu Sep 4 2014
Strictly Ballroom @ Millennium Park

Thu Sep 4 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

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: LaShawn Williams,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15


Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!


Preferred format    Preferred format