I love a Sunday matinée, especially when the ticket is free from Goldstar. It makes me feel like I’ve had a productive afternoon without requiring me to do anything more than sit in a chair and listen to people talk. I had never heard of ShawChicago before yesterday, but apparently they are a company known for their staged readings.
Readings are inherently a tough sell. Why would I want to pay full price to watch people stand behind music stands and read from a binder? Especially when there’s no music? Well because sometimes it’s the only way that a certain play is going to be produced. One Acts, though when well done probably the most satisfying theatrical form, are also tough, from a production point of view. (How many to put together? What order? Etc.)
So ShawChicago had set a pretty tough bar for themselves with a collection of readings of J.M. Barrie’s non-Peter Pan one acts. And though my attention did waver a bit, it’s inevitable when there aren’t set pieces to distract my modern American eyes, I did enjoy the show. This is a testament to the enduring strength of Barrie’s writing: Rosalind, a clever indictment of the unfair expectations of female actors (they must jump from 29 to 60 there are no roles in between), could have been written last year (unforuntately). The other things that captivated me were the performances; especially Gary Alexander and Barbara Zahora, their energy made the reading seem like a real show.