Chicago Theatre Review
Don’t Wait, and go see “Lefty” at the Oracle
By Lazlo Collins
As any theatre person, goes and goes and goes to theatre; you begin to make a series of expectations; what the play will be like? How the musical will sound? How will THAT particular company engage its audience? Many of the shows meet the expectations you already have in your head. As an audience member you assess each of the theatre’s you attend.
It is a great thing to be genuinely surprised by a theatrical production.
“Waiting for Lefty”, now playing at the Oracle Theatre, is just one of these productions.
Written by Clifford Odets and premiering in 1935, this play is as relevant today as it was back then. The searing stripped down production at the Oracle is magnificent. The poignant voices in the show come through loud and clear. The acting is superb. The original and infamous producing company of the Federal Theater would be proud.
The physical space in the Oracle helps to convey the emotional messages of this performance. As the actors move around you, the messages are immediate and sometimes strident. The space is transformed in the cleverest of ways.
This is story of economic inequities, financial struggling, and union ethics. This gripping scenes of “Lefty” present glimpses that are able to touch all the audience members.
A haunting chant for the cast begins this 55 minute play. The protagonist, “Heavy” (John Arthur Lewis), gets the ball rolling in the show. He does a brilliant job moving through the stories. He is an excellent actor; bringing a familiar archetype to an accessible level.
Dylan Stuckey and Stephanie Polt (Joe and Edna) do an amazing job as the centerpiece couple of this production. Mr. Stuckey is a great actor hits the highs for his character. Ms. Polt matches his acting chops with intensity scene by scene.
This excellent ensemble cast brings the show to a lovely conclusion, each person taking a dramatic turn.
As director, Matt Foss understands the show. He has brought not only top notch actors, but a myriad of design elements that works so well together. He keeps the actors moving through their paces, but at no time does the show get preachy or cartoon like.
A deep bow to the design team as well. Masterfully crafted, the design not only works for the piece itself, but for the space too. It is inspiring to see such creativity with what I can only imagine is a small budget.
Not only is Oracle’s philosophy about theatrical accessibility inspired, this play is inspiring as well. You should see this show. No excuses. It’s only 55 minutes, and it’s free!
“Waiting for Lefty” runs at the Oracle Theatre, 3809 N Broadway, Chicago.
For tickets go to www.publicacccesstheatre.org
Additional information about this and other area productions may be found at www.theatreinchicago.com