The Misanthrope | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Misanthrope 

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The Misanthrope, Wing & Groove Theatre. After seeing a recent production of this Moliere classic in a reasonable facsimile of a 17th-century court (backdrop courtesy of the Cuneo Museum and Gardens), I wondered how Wing & Groove would stage it in their small Bucktown space. Ingeniously, adapters Andrew Gall and Megan Powell have taken Moliere's solitary, scornful hater of hypocrisy and the posers and social climbers who surround him and placed them in a modern-day universe of sycophants and cynics: the music business. It's a perfect fit.

A brooding Eddie Vedder type (Jamie Kelsey) falls in love with a Britney-esque pop tart (Autumn Lakosky) and makes an enemy of an Eminem-ish rapper (Benjamin Morphis, funny right down to his overexposed boxers) with a brutally honest critique of his rhymes. Rivalry and backstabbing ensue, all of which is recorded by the little diva's journalist cousin (Margie Hachmeister in a fantastic comic performance employing face, voice, body, and props), who airs the dirty spandex in People magazine. The characters' names are different, but the song remains the same.

Gall and Powell take a lot of liberties with the script's iambic pentameter--who knew you could rap to it?--but stay very true to the meaning. The black-box space works for them, morphing into a subway, strip club, dressing room, and other urban spots to an electronic score that includes takeoffs on "Oops! I Did It Again" and "Under My Thumb." Moliere was never so fly.

--Kim Wilson

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