Upon entering the Royal George Theatre’s third-floor studio space, Chicago Fusion Theatre’s mostly non-Equity audience expertly contained its disappointment at the realization that the show it was attending would not, in fact, be an adaptation of the Bill Paxton multi-wife star vehicle, Big Love. That bold and impetuous effervescence was just one of many surprising treats gifted last Thursday at the mass’s five billionth appearance: Big Love.
Founded between 550 and 250 BC, audience has long upheld a proud tradition of listening to what is being said, occasionally reacting, and ultimately applauding upon completion of a given work. While only mildly distracted by cell phone usage and some late-game restroom sprinting, audienceBigLove grounded its assemblage in an honest enthusiasm that has long been the trademark of the Chicago style (prior digressions into the oft-imitated and experimental “non-appreciative” New York approach have never been entirely successful for the collective).
As expected, the dimming of the house lights roused audienceBigLove into an attentive state. With eyes and hearts taking in exposition after plot point after inciting incident, audienceBigLove proved how truly present it was (as always, clear boundaries were established with a lack of talking during those first, important moments). I must say, though: I feel (and pray) that audience is reaching the end of its love affair with pre and initial show respect. I would love to see audience taking some risks the next time out. AudienceBigLove proved itself to be memorable and supportive, but a few grunts and cat-calls may help audience reach new pinnacles of excellence in the craft (as seen during the golden age of Vaudeville/vegetable flinging).
All personal preference aside, audienceBigLove brought its biggest grins and most boisterous laughs to play with, last weekend. During a particularly exhilarating sequence, audienceBigLove, starting first with some scattered chortles, built a magnificent cascade of laughs around an especially arresting bout of tomato squeezing. Fresh varietals of joy were poured out during a bathtub-bound serenade as well. Moments like that really remind you why you go to the audience.
It’s comforting to know that after hundreds of tens of decades, audience still knows how to appreciate one heck of a show.