Since Eric Roach and I have started our little reviewing blog, we have become staples in the Chicago theatre and restaurant communities and heroes on the discussion panel circuit. Benefits include not paying for meals, getting backrubs from lead actors and handshakes with the greatest other minds of our time.
So when I was asked to pay $5 to attend Eric Roach's new opus, he received his first strike.
"Strike one!" I exclaimed.
"Just shut up already" Eric protested.
"Whatever" I retorted, in vain.
Now an important part of my reviews are the overall audience experience, since how else can you separate one stupid gay play from the other?
This experience was nothing short of oppulent.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a "hello" from a nice, fair chested, young woman. Then, when asked for my billing information, I refused, sending her into a great deal of apologies, the likes of which I haven't seen before from someone with breasts of that caliber.
I forgave her, much to my wife's dismay.
Upon entering the theatre, turned football mosque (an incredible shrine to football and some guys face by Angelina Martinez) I grabbed my seat in the front pew.
I was ready to believe in something bigger than me. Something that unites us all over the civilized world. A game of peace and credibility immortalized by role models for our children and friends for our men. A game of SUCCESS that touches the very heart of America with it's glove covered fingers and AX body-sprayed biceps.
Now I was just about to finish saying this out loud when the same breasted lady from before asked me to keep my voice down as the play was about to begin.
1985, written by Chas Vrba, achieves a lot before intermission. As any real American has, I read the great british novel 1984 in high school.
So the material was fresh in my mind as we began our journey together.
The play begins with our hero Winston (a charmed Chas Vrba) doubting his loyalty to Big Brother. In this case though, and it being 1985 Chicago, the bears have taken hold of the city and are watching our every move. The gang of friends he has collected to live in this hellish prison are wonderful and care about him very much.
There is Rachel (played with fresh verocity by Stacy Barra) that loves her hair and bears and cares about Winston but is married to the controlling Ross (a drug fueled performance by Manny Tammayo). Phoebe (an angsty Christy Arrington that seemed stuck in time, much to my delight!) a youngish lady with a penchant for cursing and beer guzzling. Chandler (a mighty Scott Oken who rides the show up and down like an oil covered horse that does not want him to be on top of it) a policeman with the right attitude, Joey ( a tight lipped Tim Amos, just right for this mix of despair and nutty perfunctory glee) as a Nascar loving member who is eventually sent to fix his sports favorites in "Room 101". Gunther ( Mike Ooi in his finest performance to date) as a homosexual guzzling Beef Store Magnate.
WEith his friends, Winston carries along, finishing his responsibilities and loving his glorious Chicago Bears until a young lady arrives named Monica (Laura MacKenzie in the sexiest of all womens roles), a Howard Jones loving sparkplug with all the right moves to make Winston rethink his loyalties.
Now, as far as drama goes, you'd be hard pressed to find another piece with this kind of momentum just from the yelling alone.
Not to mention the comedy chops you couldn't find anywhere else in town.
Well, it all leads up to the moment of decision, when the lights come up, and they tell you it's only half over.
Not to worry, I have brought cigarettes and many conversation starters.
Well, after not bringing a lighter and no one to talk to, I returned to my seat, and sat back, clinging to my money (it's very dark in there) ready to enjoy the second act of this epic play.
And I did.
I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Now there's not much I can tell you without giving away the ending, but Ernie Deak was wonderful as a television screen, there is snow and everybody dies at the end.
Eric Roach, my good friend, has outdone himself this time, and should take a break, because raising the bar again so fast could literally shut down the theater scene in Chicago.
BEAR DOWN AND SEE THIS MONSTER OF THE MIDWAY!!
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach