New Centerstage Review Up

Red Tape Theatre’s motto is “Awake Now?” and the plays they put on are all about pushing us out of our comfort zone. I’ve seen two such shows now, and my main feeling on them is: I want to like them better. The acting, the sets, the sound design, the direction–it’s all there. But they are so self-serious! Again, I’ve only seen two shows, but just glancing at the rest of their season, it’s all doom and gloom. Nothing wrong with using theater to shake people up a bit; that’s an important use for it. But I have to be gripped by the story in order for that to work, and instead I’m sitting there wondering when I’m going to feel invested in what’s going on. Here’s an excerpt from my play review:

As usual at Red Tape, the costumes (Izumi Inaba) and set design (Emily Guthrie) were a marvel of detail and atmosphere. The themes of small-town dreams, collective guilt, and American pride are clearly spelled out in this funerary tale, but the play tackles them more from the head than from the heart, and that’s where it falters.

You can read the rest of the review here.

New Centerstage Review Up

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a tale of love gone horribly wrong: The Gingerbread House at Red Tape Theatre in Lakeview. Here’s an excerpt of my play review:

Imagine the story of Hansel and Gretel, but instead of following the children down the path of breadcrumbs, we follow the parents into their own increasingly dark forest. That’s the premise of Mark Schultz’s “The Gingerbread House.” Money is tight and life is miserable for Brian (Mike Tepeli) and Stacey (Meghan Reardon), so they decide to make all their problems disappear by doing the unthinkable: they sell their kids.

Yep, it’s quite the premise, and it holds promise for the first half hour. But it goes on too long (two hours, with an intermission) and loses the intensity that was so compelling at first. Still, the set, direction, sound, and acting is all good–all the elements are there except for a tight script. I will want to see another show by this company to see what else they can do.