Pay attention to this one- Remy Bumppo has broken tradition in their latest production, the Midwest Premierre of Tedeusz Slobodzianek’s “Our Class” winner of Poland’s prestigious Nike Literary Award.
This is a play that director Nick Sandys felt was one that fit the talent that makes up his company and a story that deserved to be told. I for one, want to thank Nick for bringing this to his company and having them decide that he is right, and based on the filled house tonight, over a week after the opening, and the standing ovation they were given, they made the right choice!.
“Our Class” is a stirring story about a small town in Poland that begins in the 1930′s as we spend time with a class of students composed of both Jews and Poles ( here is where I have a slight problem as the Jews are also Polish, just as in Germany, the Jews were also Germans), who we will call Christians for the sake of the adaptation by Ryan Craig, We are brought through almost 70 years in the lives of these classmates as we witness then gong through the Russian takeover and the Nazis, the Holocaust, the betrayals, the loves and their survivals, deaths and punishments. It is two and a half powerful hours of story telling solidly directed by Mr. Sandys with a cast who is always on the stage or involved as they change and grow as well as age. Only one,Abram ( the always reliable David Darlow) leaves early on for America. It s through his letters that we learn about his life and happiness leaving them behind, but in his heart missing them as much as one can miss a loved one.
The other characters in this play, are played to perfection by the amazing Linda Gillum, the powerful Matthew Fahey, The adorable Rachel Shapiro, Stephen Spencer, who take son a character who becomes the hunted and the hunter, Rebecca Sohn ( who captures the beauty of her character who converts to survive),Dennis William Grimes, Brian Plocharczyk, Aram Monisoff and Matt Holzfeind. This is a strong, energetic cast that keeps the mood of the story intact a sthey go in and out of narratives and music ( Joe Cerqua is the composer and the musical director and handles the sound as well).
The set ( Joe C. Klug) is a sort of big three sided box and the actors, who enter from the aisles sit in chairs along the sides throughout the play. There are some vivid projections ( John Boesche) that are realistic and add to the story telling experience. The movement/choreography by MaureenJanson is sheer perfection as they go from kids in school to adults living out their lives. Mike Durst’s lighting effects and Jeremy Floyd’s costumes along with the props by Jesse Gaffney, make this production as solid as one can expect -no flaws at all!
Over the years, we have experienced many stories of what took place during the second World War, but this story is a little different as we get into more than just the Holocaust. We learn about the Russian Revolution and the changes in one small town that can change the course of life for all those who live there. Young kids, who play together and love each other are forced to change their attitudes about each other in order to survive. And yet, in this story, some decide to take risks to save another, even knowing if they are caught, they could be killed. While this is a fictional story, isn’t it possible that in some way, some of these people really existed and some of these things really took place? In this production,we the audience do feel that this could be the case and Sandys and his troupe bring us an experience that will be lasting.
“Our Class” will continue at the Greenhouse Theater Center. located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through May 11th with a performance schedule as follows:
Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7th, 7:30 p.m.
Special Matinees: Thursday,April 24th 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 10th at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $42.50- $52.50
To order call the box office 773-404-7336 or visit www.remybumppo.org
Parking is available on the streets ( metered and unmetered) and at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital where 100 spaces have been designated as FREE for theater goers.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Our Class”