Chicago Theatre Review
‘Changes of Heart’ Gets All the Laughs at Remy Bumppo
By Devlyn Camp
In a translation from 18th century France to 1960s Chicago, Remy Bumppo’s production of the three act play Changes of Heart embraces serious issues in class structure in order to heighten the more significant matter: comedy. Nowadays, it’s a little easier for those to go hand in hand. The start of the show is a bit like a comedic silent film, in which several characters hectically run from various doors of the stage and, without dialogue, their personalities are understood. When the speaking begins, although the setting is the 1960s, the dialogue remains heightened, quick and clever. Seemingly opposite of the dialogue’s description, Harlequin (Nicolas Gamboa) enters, and from here on, he carries the show on his denim jacketed back. On a quest to find his love who has been taken in by a prince who also strives for her affection, Harlequin wines and dines among the royalty in a patient wait for his Sylvia to be set free. In several thoughtful conversations Gamboa overacts to a perfect degree. He’s completely camp and even next to the plainest of characters it feels so right.
In pursuit of Harlequin and somewhat assisting Sylvia, Flaminia (Linda Gillum) is another addition of camp, next to Gamboa. In her deepest moments Gillum is true and intent, and in her wildest, she matches the outrageous masked Harlequin, making them the comedic duo of the evening. In other solo moments, an unnamed ensemble member starts each scene by lip-syncing to an Edith Piaf or Dusty Springfield record. That joke goes beyond comedy’s “rule of threes” and everyone is grateful for it.
In a somewhat soapy, off the wall sort of way, Changes of Heart analyzes fundamental issues in class, respect, and finding beauty within another person. In a set design so simple while so gorgeous, we are allowed into moments between varied characters who attempt to compete with their beauty, but really rely on their minds. Even the jokes are in smartest form, with asides and reflexive comedic jabs at the play’s own upscale language. Many of the laughs are sparked by the cast’s likely unscripted, outrageous facial expressions, which come one after another for the full three acts.
Timothy Douglas has directed an extremely intelligent work with a cast to match. This play has it all: dire issues, belly laughs, real characters, and that over the top edge that makes it, plain and simple, a fun night in live theatre.
CHANGES OF HEART
Remy Bumppo Theatre Company
Through January 8, 2012
Tickets $35, available at remybumppo.org
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