Chicago Theatre Review
By: Kayland Smyth
The ensemble, Stage Left, is kicking off its 31st season with the world premiere of Impenetrable, written by Mia McCullough and directed by Greg Werstler, a Stage Left ensemble member. Impenetrable tells the story of a spa owner who erects a billboard to advertise his services and increase business. The billboard shows a gorgeous model with arrows superimposed pointing out her “imperfections” and suggesting cosmetic “solutions” his spa can provide. It sparks outrage in the women of the community and after protesting and boycotting of the salon the billboard is taken down.
Now the first thought that may come to mind is oh great another story about a group of feminists who want the billboard removed. However in this case that is not the focal point. The real story is about Talya (Melanie Derleth), the woman on the billboard, Pete (Kyle Johnson), the photographer who took the photo, Mourad (Kamal Hans) the spa owner, Julie (Emi Clark) and Cari (Kayla Rhea), a mother and daughter, and Andie (Jennifer Pompa) an overweight coffee shop manager. It is also about the responsibility of the advertising media, biases based on appearances and the effects, on our own self-image, of pop culture’s glorification of youth and beauty.
I really liked this play for three
reasons: first, it is based on true events and is written mainly in monologue style. This gives the audience a chance to hear what the characters are thinking and feeling. Second, Talya’s story was an attention grabber because she is the only one who does not blatantly share her entire story in the beginning. She gives generic bits and pieces of her story throughout the performance that have no depth. Her story reminded me of putting together a puzzle with the picture side face down. You dump the pieces out on the table and begin to assemble. When you are almost done you realize that there is one piece missing. You search high and low and when you find it and put it in its rightful place, you flip it over and view the finished product and realize that’s what I was trying to make. But in
the Talya’s case, that’s what I was trying to get out of her. Lastly, I love how Talya embodied the definition of Impenetrable; impossible to pass through and enter. You wanted so bad for her to open up and just when you think she is, she shuts back down.
Impenetrable runs September 7, 2012 through October 7, 2012 at Wit Theater, 1229 W Belmont. Performances run Thursday through Saturday at 8:00p and Sundays at 3:00p. Tickets are $25 at Wit Theater Box Office, online at theaterwit.org, or by calling 773-975-8150.