Chicago Theatre Review
From Russia with Love, from The Strange Tree Group
By Lazlo Collins
“Goodbye Cruel World”, presented by The Strange Tree Group at Theater Wit, is completely satisfying soviet satirical farce, with plenty of great acting and characters. The adaptation of the 1928 play “The Suicide”, has had a checkered past. The scenes come fast and furious during this 90 minute romp that asks the question, “If I committed suicide, who would it benefit?” Well, the many answer to the question are revealed throughout the show.
With the actors tackling 27 different parts, the action seldom ceases through this story of one’s man’s plans for his life, suicide and finally, his life once again.
The extremely talented cast starts off with bang and never lets up. As Semyon Semyonovich Podsakelnikov, Scott Cupper literally dives, jumps and rolls into his character of the once suicidal lead character. He is enjoyable to watch; and you are with him from the beginning of his journey, from dashed tuba playing dreams to his “real” death.
The rest of this amazing cast plays a revolving door of characters both male and female. Jenifer Henry Starewich and Elizabeth Bagby keep the feminine characters in perspective. They are a talented duo, keeping the laughs and timing just perfect. Ms. Bagby brings her “A”. Her facials are perfect without pulling focus.
With Joseph Stearns, Brian Grey and Stuart Ritter balancing out the rest of the ensemble, they bring their best performances and energy to the piece. These actors have all done their homework, and keep the audience well engaged. The many characters and quick changes are not for the novice actor. These actors are committed and tell the story with a vengeance.
As big shout out to the design team behind “Goodbye Cruel World”. Even when you first enter the theater, the atmosphere and actors begin the show immediately; creating an energy that lasts throughout the show. The set (Delia Baseman, Bob Kruse, Kate Nawrocki, and Emily Schwatz) is well imagined and well designed. From the imposing color palate to the intricate curtains; the attention to details is well done.
The costumes are both period and necessary puzzle pieces that work well with the guidance of Delia Baseman.
The very well done direction by Bob Kruse is complicated as it is clever. His direction is deliberate, and moves with the pace of a raging river with the audience holding on for a thrill ride.
A pleasing duo of musicians adds the necessary Russian soundtrack. Marty and Sarah Scanlon use a variety of clever instruments throughout the show. They are fun to watch as well.
Transport yourself to communist Russia and be prepared to have a great time. You will enjoy not only the great story; but the great company of actors, racing as one, to tell us this funny and engaging tale.
“Goodbye Cruel World” runs through 22 July at Theater Wit. Presented by The Strange Tree Group. For tickets call 773-975-8150 or go to www.theaterwit.org