Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Profiles Production of Sweet and Sad by Richard Nelson
On a recent trip to Chicago, I took a short cab ride to Profiles Theatre Company on North Broadway. They have a new and rehabbed space which I found intimate and wonderful. The ceiling is high and looks like a tin ceiling, plenty of space for lighting equipment, excellent sound system. Richard Nelson calls "Sweet and Sad" one of his "disposable" plays because of the precision of the setting (September 11, 2011). But I was glad to see this play produced. First off, there was Joe Jahraus' deft direction. I would have to look at the text for the play but I loved the fact that the audience entered to an empty space and then the actors put the entire space together. They brought a rug out, laid it down. They entered with the dining room table which seemed mythic in its own way. They brought a cart table in, dishes, silver ware, food. They served themselves like so many family dinners. Robert Breuler as Uncle Benjamin Apple was a piece of genius casting. Kate Harris and Darrell Cox inhabited their characters to the core. I admit I had some troubles with the supporting cast but some of that had to do with the writing. For example, there is a middle sister...who is she? Why does she want to turn her actor-boyfriend into a full-time waiter? What does she need the money for? The woman playing this character was dressed like a sober matron. The text says she's divorced, maybe several times, I would have dressed her more provocatively suggesting that she's the sister who gets around. As it stood, I did not buy that relationship with her bald actor boyfriend for a moment. The pacing of the production, the use of overlap was executed perfectly by all. I enjoyed the way the ensemble worked. They clicked. I did not think all the characters were defined enough and the program was confusing. It lists only Robert Breuler as Equity and yet the ticket price was $40 so I found myself wondering who is union and who is not, were some actors paid and some not? Would explain some of the uneveness of the acting but it seemed from the program like all the actors had won awards, done loads of work, etc. Loved seeing the family dynamic up there. Very important to see this play in relation to Belles. Thought provoking. Making me think and write and re-write! Thank you Richard Nelson!