Review “BEING SEEN” (The Den Theatre): Dramatic Absurdity

Saturday, June 17, 2023 Permalink 0

Named “Fan Favorite” at the New York International Fringe Festival, BEING SEEN is currently having its Chicago Premiere.

Writer and Director Richard Gustin pulls the curtain back to show a glimpse of life pre-show. An actor (played by Kelly Anne Clark) is auditioning for a director (played by Will Clinger). The play tryout is both intimate and intense. Clark is desperate. Clinger is eccentric. The combination pushes the dramatic absurdity to absurd levels. 

Gustin’s dialogue is riddled with theatrical intellectualisms. Clinger asks a piercing question. Clark responds with a lengthy and often awkward litany of her thespian experiences. Clinger requests to see an emotion or transformation. Clark quickly reciprocates by distorting her face or falling to the ground. The strong performances are impressive. Clark, in particular, is constantly acting with a wide range of emotion and ongoing motion. She wants ‘the part’ and is willing to do anything to get it. Although the back and forth is engaging, the staging itself is a bit challenging.  

The show is in a black box theatre with seats on three sides. I had a seat in the middle section which is the best choice. The two flanking sections struggle with obstructed views. A pole is in the middle. Their view is mostly Clark’s back for a good portion of the performance. They do see Clinger easier than the middle section. Clinger starts the show seated in a row directly across from me. Later, he paces in the row behind me. Between the lighting and my fellow audience members, it was difficult for me to see him. Ironically, BEING SEEN is hard to see -in its entirety- for everyone. 

The show IS clever! Actors will especially appreciate BEING SEEN. It’s probably their worst nightmare staged for their entertainment.     

Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission

At the Crosby Theatre at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee 

Written and directed by Richard Gustin 

Performances are:

Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8pm   

Sundays at 3pm

Thru July 2nd 

For more information or tickets

Production photos by Mike Martin

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

Comments are closed.