Chicago Theatre Review
Seven brides for Seven Brothers… Wait
By Olivia Lilley
A young woman all in white tears every rose from it’s stem in her bouquet under an ocean of roses and stems. Tears flood her cheeks as a well dressed man with a martini casually remarks, “Hi. I’m Julian.” Straw Dog’s production of Chuck Mee’s “Big Love” shows you a world where girls can have fifty sisters, old women know every word to Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”, fifty grooms arrive by helicopter, and strangers think they know what’s best for you and your future and their word is law. Under Matt Hawkins’ direction, Chuck Mee’s play is half Greek tragedy, half David Lynch film. From the moment the pianist decides to continue after his song is over, you know you are in for some surprises. One of the most epic entrances I have ever seen happens in this. I will not ruin it. The ending is one of visceral, haunting proportions. I will not ruin that either.
Michaela Petro, Sarah Goeden, and Stacy Stoeltz deliver their monologues like they are thunder and lightning, striking the earth with their beliefs. Shane Kenyon, John Ferrick, and Kyle Gibson are the three enraged stooges. They make us burst out crying laughing as often as they make us want to curl up in a ball. For me, the brides and the grooms lacked specificity. It felt like each of them was competing for the attention of the audience individually as opposed to coming together as a whole, transcending into powerful forces to be reckoned with. There was a lot to be gained by utilizing the physicality of the performers. The director missed out on the opportunity, especially in that final scene.
The set was a ceiling of roses, vines, and light bulbs that seemed to go on forever in all directions. It worked on several levels: it was reminiscent of a wedding reception, it evoked the carefree attitude of the Italian characters, and it contrasted well with the dark nature of the events about to play out before us. The original score supported that contrast and worked on all those other levels as well.
“Big Love” is a theatrical experience that’s guaranteed to dazzle, frighten, and resonate with you.
By Charles L. Mee
Directed by Matt Hawkins
April 21st – May 25th
Performances Thursday, Friday, and Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 4pm
3829 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613
For additional information on this and other shows go to www.theatreinchicago.com