Chicago Theatre Review

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Muddying the Theatrical Waters

April 20, 2014 Reviews Comments Off on Muddying the Theatrical Waters

Mud Blue Sky – A Red Orchid Theatre

A surprisingly stumbling, underwhelming affair, “Mud Blue Sky” is easily the weakest play that I’ve seen staged at A Red Orchid Theatre in some time, though with most disappointing productions (and certainly one from the capable Red Orchid team), the vast majority of those criticisms fall at the feet of the playwright (in this case, Marisa Wegrzyn), rather than the performers or direction.

A day in the life of three flight attendants and a high school drug dealer (who deals pot to one of the attendants), “Mud Blue Sky” has all the ingredients for a great play – deadpan humor; empathetic themes and characters; delightfully awkward situations; and intriguing, learned details, such as the attendant’s propensity for what channels certain hotels’ cable packages contain.

The problems arise in the structuring of all those elements. Plays work best when you can’t see the seams, when all the themes and disparate elements slowly build as the play progresses. In the case of “Mud Blue Sky,” though, the seams show, and the various revelations of the show’s second half can’t help feeling pat and even, at times, a bit obvious. In particular, there is a late-act monologue from a specific character (I won’t reveal who) that feels completely out of place, and you can’t help but feel bad watching the scene play out, given the mudcommitment of the actor.

And again, that’s the saddening thing about “Mud Blue Sky” – as with any Red Orchid production, the various elements are all first-rate. The cast is focused and committed, with ensemble members Mireka Girten and Natalie West in especially fine form, and Jacqueline Penrod’s set designs and S.G. Heller’s stage management do wonders with Red Orchid’s relatively small performing area. If none of those skills, though, are in service of a strong play, then the results will inevitably be disappointing, as is the case with “Mud Blue Sky.”

Somewhat Recommended

Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci

Presented April 9 – May 25 by A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610

Tickets are available by calling 312-943-8722 or by visiting http://www.aredorchidtheatre.org

Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.


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