Angela Tallis | Chicago Reader

Recent Reviews

Re: “Tilikum

Enjoyed and recommend the play though its imagination far, far outweighs its intellect. Quite a bit of a stretch yet this quirky little film comes to mind.…

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Angela Tallis on 07/21/2018 at 12:31 PM

Re: “Hang

Not a well-made but ill-made play finishes RB's season. The actors do their duty but much of what the characters say/do is preposterous in the given situation, increasingly so. Result: histrionics. Solution? That most dreaded of theatrical fates: a workshop. Turn HANG into a two-hander, beefing up both roles, cutting back severely on the comic bits, which are too stutteringly British, too stiff-upper lip, too let's have a cuppa in the face of UK's fumbling bungling bureaucratic mishmash. Finish off with a rhetorical mano a mano confrontation that draws blood from both sides.

So, back across the pond for a redo. Cheery-bye-bye!

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Angela Tallis on 04/02/2018 at 6:30 PM

Re: “The Madwoman of Chaillot

Jean Giraudoux's THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT gets a superb, delightful production till March 17 at Athenaeum Theatre Studio One. I shun the epithet "timely" because masterpieces - and this is one - are by their very nature timeless. Elaine Carlson flourishes a lifetime of theatrical experience in her portrayal of Countess Aurelia. Here not a mere character but a warm-hearted human being with all the multifarious elements that brings into play. Dotty, undaunted, mercurial, aristocratic, charming, brash, honorable, intuitive, and in the end emotionally shattering. The bad people get their comeuppance, the good people dish it out, and true lovers seal it with kiss. This is what great French theatre was like before the existential crowd put the kibosh on the entire universe. Couple this production with the superb TIGER AT THE GATES a few years back and one hopes ONDINE might be a future project at Promethean Theatre.

Posted by Angela Tallis on 02/25/2018 at 8:06 PM

Re: “Puff: Believe It or Not

After last season's American premiere of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Remy Bumppo rolls the dice with a world premiere adaptation of a Eugene Scribe romantic comedy. Don't sweat it: THINK THEATRE is not all of a sudden becoming WHAT THE HELL, LET'S TAKE A FLYING LEAP THEATRE! What starts with a "well-made play" finishes with a well-made production. Gift-wrapped with a bow and red/green sprinkles for the holidays. Wikipedia:

"The well-made play can be broken down into a specific set of criteria. First, the story depends upon a key piece of information kept from some characters, but known to others (and to the audience). Most of the story takes place before the action of the play begins, making the beginning of the play a late point of attack. Exposition during act one explains actions that precede the opening scene, and generates the audience's sympathy for the hero (or heroes) over their rival (or rivals). The plot moves forward in a chain of actions that use minor reversals of fortune to create suspense. The pace builds towards a climactic obligatory scene, in which the hero triumphs."

Herein characters catapult at cross-purposes in a multilayered plot where every entrance, every exit, sets another gear grinding, another line assembling, manufacturing a theatrical contraption guaranteed to contain not so much as a single dull moment. Product not art. Fine by me. Set in the salon society of 1840's Paris where would-be poets, memoirists, novelists, historians, play truth or dare with publishers, journalists, politicians, financiers. Most of whom are crooked and delighted to be so. Literary quality counts for nothing, status everything, ruled on all sides by puff, by money. This is the world of Balzac's LA COMEDIE HUMAINE in which the protagonist, as Henry James observed, is the "twenty-franc piece." Acting laurels belong to Joshua Moaney as Albert dAngremont, Netta Walker as Antonia de la Roche-Bernard, David Darlow as Cesar Desgaudets and Kelsey Brennan as his daughter Corrine. Indeed, the entire cast is strong though the director might cut back on the wink-at-the-audience moments. Also, the clumsy title, which recalls the legacy of Robert Ripley, should be cut to one word: PUFF.

Theatre Thursday / December 14:…

Posted by Angela Tallis on 12/06/2017 at 3:47 PM

Re: “The Skin of Our Teeth

Elia Kazan's 10/18/1942 letter from New Haven to Thornton Wilder:

"Our trouble seems to be in the third act. I have worked, and will continue to work here - but there is something about the third act that makes the audience stir a little - cough. No catarrh in acts one and two. The rehearsal scene is hilarious. When the curtain went down after it for a minute tonight, we got an excellent hand. Then comes a gradual sobering of the mood, a slowing down of more obvious "action," and what impresses the audience (not myself, not sensitive people like John Cromwell, Phil Barry, Bob Ardrey, John O'Hara, etc.) as talkiness - at any rate, let me report the fact. At this point, after our second performance, the audience has both times been restless and impatient with the later half of act three....Now all this would be very simple if you were here. I feel we could fix things up in no time. But without you it's DIFFICULT."

Thornton Wilder pooh-poohed Kazan's concerns and never came to help. So the problem the playwright dodged persists for each new director to solve. Krissy Vanderwarker and her unflagging cast animate Act I (Ice Age), Act II (Flood), and mostly succeed with the knotty Act III (War). Then move along to a rousing finish that doesn't finish, doesn't finish, doesn't finish, doesn't finish, doesn't finish....a way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. Huh?

Posted by Angela Tallis on 10/16/2017 at 1:12 PM

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Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/13/2018 at 5:24 PM

Re: “Crashing the boys’ club: independent women directors in the 60s and 70s

Barbara Loden's early death was a loss to theater, film, television. Elia Kazan on WANDA: "They made the film in a way that fascinated me, largely improvisational, departing at every turn from the script. They directed together, Barbara the actors, Nick Proferes the camera. It was a great success in Europe and won a prize in Venice. She was quickly acclaimed a heroine of the feminist movement, the first woman to write and direct a film about a "floater," that kind of woman, and to do it on her own. In the kind of flip-flop that characterizes our culture, Barbara was suddenly on top of the world. She was where she'd always wanted to be, preeminent in a world she believed in, not competing in one for which she had no respect."

Her acting is hard to find but worth the effort:…

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/08/2018 at 9:45 AM
Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/06/2018 at 5:48 PM

Re: “Jean-Pierre Melville's brooding cinema surveyed on FilmStruck

You forgot the quotation marks. I thought you were describing West himself.
Yours truly,
A Lost Soul

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/06/2018 at 4:27 PM
Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/06/2018 at 12:18 PM

Re: “Chicago Shakespeare presents an amped-up Midsummer Night’s Dream in the parks, the way it was sort of meant to be

Or Babs should finish each evening with a decent recording of Vaughan Williams' masterly SERENADE TO MUSIC, which sets a text from THE MERCHANT OF VENICE that's all about moonlight.…

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn!
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is, your spirits are attentive
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Music! hark!
It is your music of the house.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion
And would not be awak'd. Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Angela Tallis on 08/02/2018 at 6:47 PM

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