Chicago Theatre Review
“A Pair of Star Crossed Lovers Take Their Lives”
by Olivia Lilley
When I stepped into the theatre, the smell of old books and the feeling that twenty-seven years of opening nights had taken place here was everywhere, in every speck of dust, in every creak of every audience seat. A lone sax on a scratchy radio moaned as if coming from a distant window across the alleyway. I was transported to the East Village storefronts of the 70’s and 80’s and I had only just entered the theatre. When the show began, the atmospheric choices of the preshow were dwarfed by the grand entrance of Mary Arrchie legend/artistic director, Richard Cotovsky. He is not a relic from some other time, but a living, breathing force of nature who’s lived through it all: now and then. The past was here before us all at once. At last, we jumped in through the grainy TV screen full of the faded colors, parachute pants, and windbreakers and we were there, a fly on the wall, as if it were all happening for the first time, in HD. When Rudy Galvan crashes onto the scene, language heats up and sexual tension bubbles.
“Uncle Bob” by Austin Pendleton is a very traditional play, full of speeches, verbal jabs, and two guys sitting in a room, occasionally smashing things because they can’t take it
anymore. It’s a play that could easily get tired and repetitive, but in the hands of these two, each unexpected reveal felt unexpected. These two people felt like real people with a real complex relationship with no clear answers or questions. It was a smart choice to have no intermission. This production is a train that is four hours late. It’s got to go full speed ahead or all is lost.
Director, Cody Estle, did a smart thing here. He let this show be about the performances, making sure every design element was what they needed. From the smell of the old books, to the dollhouse of a kitchen, this was a rent controlled New York City apartment in the early 90’s. And they didn’t have to spend a million dollars to make it so. Cudos to set designer Andrew Hildner. Simplicity, ingenuity, and intimacy are the things that storefront theatre, when done well, excel at. This is a prime example.
Mary Arrchie Theatre Co. presents
by Austin Pendleton
Directed by Cody Estle
Richard Cotovsky and Rudy Galvan
June 13th – July 21st
@ angel island
735 W. Sheridan Rd.
Buy tickets @ www.maryarrchie.com
For more information on this and other shows, go to www.theatreinchicago.com