review: wants and needs

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[originally published: http://aislesay.com/CHI-WANTS.html%5D

WANTS AND NEEDS:
AN IMROVISED EXPLORATION OF LIFE IN THE LAND OF PLENTY

Directed by Jim Dennen
Lookingglass Theatre
821 North Michigan Avenue / (312) 337-0665 / www.lookingglasstheatre.org
Through August 6, 2006

Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
July 15, 2006

It is important to enter the Lookingglass Theatre at Michigan and Pearson knowing what to expect from the performance event “Wants and Needs”. Yes, director Jim Dennen (or someone playing Jim Dennen) provides a funny little speech about how this is not linear narrative theater but morphing, suggestive, shifting, improvisational theatre. Even his speech is meant to be seen as improvised and morphing — with music rising and houselights dimming, he continues to drone on and the lights fade up on the two performers. And it must be said, while interpersonal dynamics could well be evoked during any particular evening, it could be a stretch to suggest that any one evening will be an “exploration of life” of any kind. This will certainly be an exposure to theatre games and improvisational technique. Beyond that, the inspiration ‘gods’ will determine what your particular evening will hold.

The target audience for this limited run piece is the student of improvisational theater or theatre professional who can appreciate two immensely skilled theatre games players with a long history of playing with each other. In a sense, we have been invited into rehearsal process that could, on any one evening, yield situations and characters that might be deeply explored. On the other hand, it may be possible that no situations or characters that emerge during a particular 90 minute, intermission-less performance will capture the actors or the audience’s imagination. This is the “playing without a net” nature of the enterprise.

Joey Slotnik, Lookingglass ensemble member also familiar from his extensive television and film credits, is an engaging personality on stage. His performance partner Lauren Katz also a veteran of television, stage and film work, appeared to be the stronger of the two in this particular skill (or perhaps was the more inspired partner this particular evening). Their partnership is clearly deep and their comfort with each other at play, in this intensely scary way, is palpable.

If this kind of theatre is your cup of tea, visit the stunning Lookingglass Theatre space before this run ends on August 6, 2006.

© Martha Wade Steketee (July 15, 2006)

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