Chicago Theatre Review
A Delightful Ride Through Hell
Hellcab – Profiles Theatre
Hellcab by Will Kern is among the longest running shows in Chicago theatre history, and along the way has become a benchmark for the winter season at Profiles Theatre – and all for very good reason. Fast-paced and hilarious, Hellcab is a play of remarkable accessibility, and I’d venture that just about every theatergoer, regardless of their experience with the medium, would find something to enjoy in the show.
The storyline is simple – a day in the life of an unnamed Chicago cabbie, Hellcab follows in snapshot format the driver’s many exploits, all involving the myriad of characters that float in and out of his life via the backseat of his cab.
Anchored by a natural, instantly likable turn from Paul Dillon as the driver – Dillon, in fact, originated the role of the cabbie in the show’s 1992 world premiere – what I liked most about Hellcab was how natural it all seemed, how every one of the play’s characters (and there are a whopping 33 of them across the play’s 80 uninterrupted minutes) receives adequate attention from Kern’s taut writing, whether its a narcissistic grocery store owner, a couple of obnoxious New Yorkers visiting town, a drug-addled loaner living on food stamps, a stuck-up attorney, or even a transvestite.
Ultimately, though, praise must be heaped upon Hellcab’s cast and its direction by Profiles Artistic Director Darrell W. Cox. Though they operate on a fairly barebones stage – all we see is the driver’s cab, center stage, the roof removed for visibility and piles of fake snow on the hood, along with some graffiti and masonry on the walls to complete the urban decor – Dillon and his cast bring the material alive, and create a pulsating, exciting rhythm to the show that is as dynamic and multifaceted as the wonderful city that inspired it. To adore Hellcab is to adore not only Chicago, but the vibrant theater scene that the city has inspired; and what better way to spend the holidays than being reminded of such a heartwarming fact?
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented November 13 – January 12 by Profiles Theatre, 4147 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60613
Tickets are available by calling 773-549-1815 or by visiting www.profilestheatre.org
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.