August 19, 2018

Becky Shaw at Windy City Playhouse

There is always cause for rejoicing when a new theater opens, especially in a neighborhood that has not previously been known as a theater destination. Windy City Playhouse may have opened in 2015, but this was my first time at the playhouse located in Old Irving Park, to see the dramatic play, Becky Shaw.

I entered the lobby to find myself in the midst of a boisterous pre-show party. I looked around at the crowd and was struck by the variety of ages, skewing on the younger side and the strong fashion sense. “Hipsters with taste and money” was the phrase that came to mind.

Inside the theater, I was lucky enough to nab a swivel chair on the ground floor. The action alternated on two stages opposite one another and in front of me in the center of the theater. I pivoted to wherever the characters were delivering their witty and acerbic banter. Side seating seems to have excellent sight lines but you may want to ask for one of the 70 swiveling ground level seats just for the novelty.

Michael Doonan as a fast-talking cad and Carley Cornelius as a fragile but truth-telling young woman are mesmerizing as the couple thrown together on a blind date by newlyweds who are related to them by family and work. Verbal fireworks ensue. Suzanne Petri is the family matriarch who says the most deliciously biting things with great style.

If you like snappy dialogue about big ideas set in an innovative theater environment, Becky Shaw is the play for you.

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