Chicago Theatre Review
Tony and Stan Say Goodbye
The Midnight City – Firecat Projects
Two longtime middle-aged friends tease and torment each other while reminiscing about what made growing up and living in Chicago special for so many years. Tony’s a big, brash, no-nonsense kind of guy who likes eating meat and loves his beer. An unlikely birding enthusiast, he collects realistically detailed models of songbirds and creates cartoon-like paintings of them. Stan, a slighter, less vocal man, reinvents himself with every new job, sometimes employed by his beloved Cubbies and at times also simply being an artist himself.
Despite their many ups and downs throughout the decades, both men have enjoyed their relationship with this City of Big Shoulders and with each other. They’ve watched their city and each other grow and change, but each man responds differently to that inevitable parade of progress. Tony has begun taking stock of his life and has decided that he doesn’t want to shovel snow any more or scrape any more ice off a windshield. In his declining years, Tony feels he’s earned the time to fully enjoy every single moment of his life and he’s about to move to a warmer climate. Stan doesn’t want his friend to leave, nor does he think it’s even the right solution; but Tony has chosen to relocate to New Orleans.
In a series of monologues and dialogues interspersed with mood-enhancing songs and musical interludes provided by talented songstress Anna Fermin and terrific guitarist John Rice (alone worth the admission price), and backed by Kristin Reeves’ interesting film & video artwork, this hour and forty-five minute riff on reevaluating your life, facing your mortality and making changes is both thought-provoking and inspiring. Stan Klein and, especially, Tony Fitzpatrick are both the authors and stars of this meditative entertainment. To call it a play would be misleading; yet it offers the kind of recollection and advice found in a good motivational speaker, without ever being didactic. While Stan is a funny, skinny little man with sudden outbursts of brilliance and a bizarre sense of himself, Tony’s a bigger, more verbal guy who’d be great to share a drink with and listen to his stories from the past. Both men offer philosophies and, while Stan sometimes seems a little unsure of his lines at times, Tony delivers his musings and meditations with the authority and conviction of a blue collar motivational speaker. He is a delightful man to know and it’s a shame (according to the story) that he’s leaving Chicago.
Aimed at audiences who’ve survived into their middle years and are wondering, like Peggy Lee, “Is That All There Is?” this entertainment travels life’s highway. It takes theatergoers through two men’s laughter and sorrow, their dreams and disappointments, while touching on current events as well as private moments. While it best speaks to lifelong Chicagoans, much of what Tony and Stan have to share is universal. It’s in this global appeal that cause these two to men sparkle.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented September 6-October 19 by Firecat Projects at the Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted, Chicago.
Tickets are availbable at the Steppenwolf box office, by calling 312-335-1650 or by going to www.steppenwolf.org.
Further information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.