Review “Lane Call A Night of Closing” (Factory Theater): Nostalgic and FUN!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023 Permalink 0

The Factory Theater presents the World Premiere of LANE CALL A NIGHT OF CLOSING. 

Upon arrival, it’s a step back into time as The Factory Theater transforms into a Venture Store (the ‘it’ store before Target).  It’s all bright and garish colors, lights and vests as the Venture crew mingle with bargain hunters. Rose Johnson (set), Ellie Humphrys (lights), Rachel Sypniewski (costume) and Henry Bender (props) make it look like a big box store. And Sebby Woldt (sound) pipes in the acoustic impression with ongoing intercom announcements.    

The creative team of Len Foote (co-playwright) and Scott Oken (co-playwright and director) take the audience on a trip to the past. The central story focuses on two employees, Billy (played by Alex Poe) and Becky (played by Katy Campbell). The couple agonize over their next moves, professionally and personally. As they consider do-I-stay-or-do-I-go, store life goes on uninterrupted. Inventory gets shelved. Customers get served. Employees get ready to party! Foote and Oken unexpectedly capture both the playfulness and the community spirit of a retail giant.    

LANE CALL stirs up all kinds of nostalgia. It’s a flashback to first jobs! A work family forms over inside jokes, industry lingo, and a maladjusted leader-in-training. Foote and Oken pen rapid-fire dialogue delivered by a mighty ensemble of thirteen. Oken stages this show tight with cast and cash-registers moving in and out of scenes quickly. The flurry of activity and the tedium of tasks clash together for comedy gold. Although the entire ensemble is distinct and hilarious in their caricatures, a few lampoons stood out. Lizzy Mosher (Lisa) making outrageous proclamations. Abbi Bryson (Gladys) uttering snarky sidebars. Garret Wiegel (Remi) continuously munching on ‘found’ Doritos. And Danny Mulae (Vince) working on a display where the hangers keep getting knocked off.      

ATTN SHOPPERS: LANE CALL A NIGHT OF CLOSING is a fun outing! Although the actual story is light on drama, the theatrical wrappings are warm and lively. I enjoyed this ensemble morphing into a working retail crew. There are surprising heartfelt moments of real fellowship. They come together in fierce solidarity for both the pending store inspection and the after-hours party!    

Running Time: Eighty minutes with no intermission

At the Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard Street

Written by Len Foote and Scott Oken

Directed by Scott Oken

Performances are:

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm   

Sundays at 3pm

Thru July 22nd 

For more information or tickets

Production photos by Candice Lee Connor, Oomphotography 

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

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