Three haunting shows

 

Several stage productions gladden the December holiday season and there are romantic comedies perfect for February. But when it comes to October, there’s usually a dearth of plays that chill the soul. Not so, this October with three classics to see.

The 'Man-Beast' at First Folio Theatre fits the haunting season. Photo complements of First Folio.
The ‘Man-Beast’ at First Folio Theatre fits the haunting season. Photo from First Folio.

‘The Crucible’

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is doing Arthur Miller’s 1953 scary in a what-can-happen way when seemingly  normal neighbors believe the stories behind the Salem Witch Trials. The play is part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series but it really is a play for all generations. Running for only eight public performances from Oct. 4 through Oct. 21, 2017, it’s a chilling reminder of how fake news can spread as if true and the harm it can do. For tickets ($20 general and $15 students) visit Steppenwolf or call (312) 335-1650. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is at 1650 N. Halsted St. Chicago.

‘The Man-Beast’

First Folio Theatre at the possibly haunted Mayslake Peabody Estate, is doing the world premiere of Joseph Zettelmaier’s ‘The Man-Beast.’ Based on a French legendary werewolf, it’s the third play in his triology of ‘The Gravedigger’ and ‘Dr. Seward’s Dracula.’  The play runs from Oct. 7 through Nov. 5, 2017. Get tickets if you dare see it at First Folio or by calling (630) 986-8067.  Located in a Du Page County forest preserve, First Folio is at  31st St. and Rt. 83 in Oak Brook.

‘GHOSTS & zombies’

Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts,” a drams that starts out innocently enough with a woman opening an orphanage as a tribute to her dead husband, becomes a dark comedy in the hands of writer Gustav Tegby. Translated by Chad Eric Bergman, the play takes a strange turn when the woman’s estate hosts ghosts and the un-dead. The play is presented by Akvavit Theatre at the Strawdog Theatre Company now through Oct. 29, 2017. For tickets go to Chicago Nordic. Strawdog Theatre Company is at 1802 W. Berenice, Chicago.

 

A Greek Tragedy set in America opens Goodman Theatre season

 

There is no question that Goodman Theatre has opened its 2017-18 season with a very special production of Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From The Bridge.’

Cast of 'A View From The Bridge' at Goodman Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)
Cast of ‘A View From The Bridge’ at Goodman Theatre. (Liz Lauren photo)

How you feel about this production will depend on whether you are comfortable with an intense, minimalist concept as developed by Director Ivo Van Hove within a severe black box, or if you relate better to a story told on a stage with scenery and possibly video and other set accoutrements that establish time and place.

Set in an Italian American area near the Brooklyn Bridge in a 1950’s America that is not immigration-friendly (sound familiar?), the play is supposedly based on a true tragedy.

Its theme, a married man becoming so obsessed with a niece living with them that he will go to any lengths to ward off possible suitors, belongs in the Greek Tragedy genre.

Take away the wife’s illegal Italian family members who have come to live with them, and the story is still about a husband’s obsession.

Similar to a Greek play, the show opens with the sounds of a beautiful but foreboding chorus. However, it is not the chorus that explains the action but Alfieri, interpreted perfectly by Ezra Knight.

Alfieri is an attorney who notes that dissatisfaction and disagreements are supposed to be handled by a lawyer as a bridge that meets halfway between combatants.

When Eddie (Ian Bedford), a dock worker who tries to keep his niece, Catherine  (Catherine Combs), first from taking a job, and then from going out with Rodolpho (Daniel Abeles), one of the two relatives who are staying with them, he learns from Alfieri that he can’t stop them from dating.

Eddie’s wife, Beatrice (Andrus Nichols) who can see what is happening tries to intervene but to no avail.

Eddie is told that the only action might be to report his wife’s cousins, Rodolpho and Marco (Brandon Espinoza) to immigration but he knows he will then become a pariah in the Italian community if he does so.

Low, ominous sounding background music plus the elimination of any intermission between the play’s two acts, heightens the feeling of doom.

‘A View From The Bridge’ is at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., now through Oct. 22, 2017. Running time : 2 hours. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-4800 and visit Goodman Theatre.