Chicago Theatre Review
A Contemporary Period Thriller
Resolution – Pride Films and Plays
It’s the holidays in the Big Apple. The year is 1892. Hannah and Jack are a loving, generously affluent couple, presumably married for fifteen years, and living in luxury. They reside in an elegant Victorian home where their every need is attended to by a full serving staff, headed up by Margaret, their meticulous housekeeper. Margaret, who’s a strict Irish Catholic, also has her own family, and is married to amiable, liberal businessman, Harrison. In the spirit of the holidays, Jack and Hannah invite Margaret and Harrison to share a glass of sherry with them to toast in the New Year, while they present Margaret with her salary, plus a healthy bonus.
After Margaret and Harrison depart, Hannah and Jack decide to let down their hair and enjoy a private, romantic New Year’s Eve together. While they’re upstairs, Margaret returns to the house, quietly letting herself in with her key. She found that she left her pay envelope on the chaise and thinks she’ll simply collect it unseen and let herself out again, without disturbing her employers’ private celebration. While searching for the money, she suddenly hears the couple descending the stairs. While quietly hiding in the shadows, Margaret observes something unspeakable that shocks the housekeeper to her conservative Victorian core.
Thus an innocent discovery sets off a series of unfortunate events that spell certain tragedy. After winning PF&P’s LezPlay competition last year, cowriters Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama are finally seeing a full production of their period thriller. This world premiere boasts an intriguing story that features four strong, interesting characters. They’re portrayed by a cast of talented young actors who distinguish themselves with finesse in this 70-minute one-act. The stellar ensemble includes Aneisa Hicks, Tiffany Mitchenor, Amber Snyder and Edward Fraim. Director Diana Raiselis, who has worked with New Colony, Prologue and Jackalope Theatre companies, has nicely staged the drama with style and humor. Although there are moments when the pacing seems to suffer from some unnecessary melodramatic pauses, this production fully holds the audience’s attention to the very end.
Recent Columbia College graduate, Milo Bue has made the most of the intimate Rivendell space, designing a tastefully decorated turn-of-the-century living room, complete with a front door and a staircase to an upper level. Sarah Jo White brings her costuming talent to this production, creating a look that bespeaks the period without becoming a slave to it. G. “Max” Maxin IV lights the space, filling it with ebullient holiday illumination one minute and mysterious, shadowy nooks and crannies the next. Sound design, including a score of original resplendent period music, is provided by the talented Matt Deitchman. Previously Mr. Deitchman has worked with Chicago Shakespeare, Mercury Theatre and the Hypocrites, creating sound tracks and live music that paint the perfect aural atmosphere, as he’s done here.
This exciting new production, which kicks off Pride Films & Plays’ fall season, is the final production before this “powerful and empowering” Chicago company moves into its new
N. Broadway home, the Pride Arts Center. This well-written, nicely performed new thriller is guaranteed to touch a nerve, especially among the LGBTQ community. Playwrights Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama have written a taut, finely crafted script dealing with issues that, despite being set in the late nineteenth century, resonate strongly today. Amidst the volatile political climate surrounding the upcoming elections, this period piece is as contemporary as today’s headlines and will spark hours of post-theatre discussion.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented October 21-November 7 by Pride Films & Plays at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling 800-737-0984 or by going to www.pridefilmsandplays.com.
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.