Chicago Theatre Review
“Beauty of the Father” at Urban Theater
By Devlyn Camp
Urban Theater Company is pushing forward with their sixth season, starting with Madrid St. Angelo vehicle, Beauty of the Father. In their new home at the Wicker Park Art Center, this plays ties perfectly with the atmosphere of the religious setting. St. Paul’s church stage is brightened with a dozen or so gorgeous paintings, frames, and easels. The artist, Emiliano, played by St. Angelo connects with a higher power and his artistic self through his work. He is guided by the ghost of actor Federico Garcia Lorca, who helps him with struggles among his family. Although exchanges between living people and ghostly friends are typically a bit cheesy, this production pulls it off quite believably.
When Emiliano’s daughter finally returns to him years after his divorce, an odd relationship strikes up between her and Emiliano’s live-in friend, Karim (played by the irresistible Nicolas Gamboa). The story sets itself up rather slowly, leaving the audience wondering when the exposition will finish, or if the play just doesn’t move fast. When it does eventually take off, Emiliano is seen trying to have his family life, religious experiences, and artistic satisfaction. Lorca’s guidance must help him try to have it all.
St. Angelo is an extremely powerful actor. He’s strong in character and tender when it counts. Next to him, the daughter (Jasmin Cardenas) seems disconnected and uneasy. Looking out of place, it’s unsure if these are character choices or lack of acting strength. Otherwise delightfully led by gleeful and interesting characters, Beauty of the Father is an entertaining and well, beautiful, work to see.
BEAUTY OF THE FATHER
Urban Theatre Company
Now through November 19th
Tickets $20, available at urbantheaterchicago.org
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