Chicago Theatre Review
‘Sender’ Continues Red Orchid’s World-Premiere Winning Streak
Sender – A Red Orchid
A Red Orchid Theatre is highly skilled at premieres – both of the Midwest and World variety – and it’s latest show, the world-premiere staging of “Sender,” continues the company’s fine winning streak.
Taking place over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, the plot of “Sender” is a highly original one. Lynx, a super hipster and revolutionary (played by Red Orchid ensemble member Steve Haggard), returns to his apartment a year after faking his death, greatly surprising his old girlfriend Tess (the versatile Mary Williamson), who remains mired in grief and alcoholism. Lynx’s return, then, comes as quite a shock to not only Tess, but also their group of friends, who include Lynx’s best friend Jordan (played with great sensitivity by Steven Wilson) and Cassandra (the ever-eloquent McKenzie Chinn), the lone adult in the group who not only married Jordan in Lynx’s absence, but is now carrying his child.
Lynx tries to pick up right where he left off, though, and to say that his return brings disaster would be an understatement. Promises are broken, oaths are violated, and lives are permanently altered as the action is driven by the crisp, accessibly poetic language of playwright Ike Holter.
And through it all, director Shade Murray, who has helmed one terrific Red Orchid production after another (he directed another excellent world premiere, the Michael Shannon-starring “Pilgrim’s Progress”), develops one of the more effective critiques I’ve yet seen of Chicago’s hipster community. Living off the beaten path is one thing, but pretension and ignorance are an entirely different matter, and then Cassandra pointedly says to her friends “Grow the fuck up, y’all,” we know exactly the sentiment she is attacking.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented through May 29 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.