Review “Howard’s End” (Remy Bumppo): Depth and Charm!

Thursday, September 12, 2019 Permalink 0

Remy Bumppo presents HOWARD’S END.

Howard’s End is a house in the English countryside. Its proper ownership comes under question when a handwritten will bequeaths it to a stranger, Margaret Schlegel. Although the Wilcox family ignores the wishes of the departed, their lives begin to get tangled up with the Schlegel sisters.

Playwright Douglas Post skillfully adapts E.M. Forster’s novel. The story elegantly hashes out classist, morality and economic issues in the early 1900s. The Schlegel sisters, played with perfection by Heather Chrisler and Eliza Stoughton, are well-read, progressive thinkers. Their privileged lives revolve around books, lectures and theatre. When they meet the hapless Leonard Best (played by Terry Bell), the sisters are shaken by his reality. They attempt to change his circumstances while under the influence of Henry Wilcox (played by Mark Ulrich).

The show has depth and charm. Post balances serious discourse with intellectual wit. Director Nick Sandys navigates his solid ensemble to deliver both with English sophistication. At the heart of the play is the sisters. And Chrisler and Stoughton rock this sisterhood! Their sense-and-sensibility chemistry is beautiful. Even when an exasperated yet controlled Stoughton is pleading with the righteous Chrisler, their loving connection is never in doubt. They understand and embrace their differences. Their relationship is homespun enchantment. 

The root of the sisters’ disagreement is Henry Wilcox. Ulrich is noteworthy playing the aloof conservative patriarch. His pompous confidence leads to moments of true gut-punching vulnerability. Ulrich crumbles on stage as his past is revealed. The outstanding Stoughton is the right match for Ulrich’s humanity. Stoughton transforms from naive girl to worldly woman with heartfelt gumption. All the drama and comedy are entertainingly weaved together. And nod out to the uber-droll couple of Charles (played by Michael McKeogh) and Dolly (played by Emily Tate). McKeogh and Tate both hilariously and continuously zing the one liners.                 

This posh production is terrific. I’m a huge fan of the movie and now this play. You will want to visit HOWARD’S END.

Running Time: Two hours and forty-five minutes includes an intermission

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont

Based on the novel by E.M. Forster

Adapted by Douglas Post

Directed by Nick Sandys

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm

Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm,

Thru October 5th

Buy Tickets

Photos by Michael Courier

For more Chicago theatre information and reviews, please visit Theatre in Chicago

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