Review “Romulus” (Oracle Theatre): Absurd and Profound

Monday, November 10, 2014 Permalink

Oracle_ROMULUS_cred_Joe-Mazza-Brave-Lux_1_resizeOracle Theatre presents ROMULUS.

The absurd mingles with the profound in Oracle’s current production.  The play sets the demise of the Western Rome Empire on and the day after the Ides of March.  The original play by Friedrich Durrenmatti and rewritten by Gore Vidal explores the ambition behind political invasions and marital arrangements.  The satire blends idealism with commercialism and adds regular stinging punches of corruption.  The story has a timelessness.  The familiarity to modern day governments is disturbing.

Under the direction of Kasey Foster, Kevin Cox (Romulus) commands the stage as the chicken feeding leader.  Within the colorful buffoonery of his subjects, Cox plays it hilariously even keel.  Cox’s resignation to being conquered is delivered with bitter dignity.  Despite his seemingly ineffectual leadership, Cox subtly and effectively maneuvers his way through sidebar dealings.

The most unforgettable aspects in Oracle’s ROMULUS are visual.  Makeup and Costume Designer Tara Smith makes this production statuesque.  The Roman ensemble are draped in togas with splotches of gray on faces and limbs.  The gray resembles stone. Smith impressively shows signs of decay with flecks of peeling.  Foster adds to the statue illustration by having her talented ensemble pose.  The cast amusingly move into elegant but ridiculously dramatic positions.  It’s like freeze tag for prosperity. The visual is a powerful reminder that we are watching history in the making.  Smith also clads the invading army in contemporary camouflage.  The costume choice reinforces the notion that war is a constant throughout the centuries.  Empires are destroyed.  New empires are birthed.   Authority changes but it doesn’t. Throughout this production, it’s the contrasting elements that are both thought-provoking and silly.  The illogical factions for war or marriage made me laugh or cringe and sometimes both… simultaneously.

And as with all Oracle productions, this show is FREE.  The mission of this public access theatre is to bring theatrical experiences to the masses without charging for it.  There is an opportunity to make a donation onsite or online to help Oracle to continue to operate as an Award-winning free theatre.

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission. 

At Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway

Written by Gore Vidal

From the play by Friedrich Durrenmatt

Directed by Kasey Foster

Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays at 8pm

Sundays at 7pm

Thru November 22nd

Reserve seats at http://publicaccesstheatre.org/

Photo by Joe Mazza, Brave Lux

For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit www.theatreinchicago.com

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