March 2007 Archives

"The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow" is a tale about Jennifer Marcus, a brilliant adopted Chinese girl living in suburban America who seeks out her birth mother in China using a robot she names "Jenny Chow". The narrative is a highly creative mish-mash of music, technological references, tear-jerking emotionalism, and razor-sharp inside jokes involving the perspectives and plight of internationally adopted/reared children.

Jenny Shin, who makes her debut performance with Chicago Dramatists here, plays Jennifer Marcus and does a wonderful job acting and narrating this rather face-paced up-tempo tale. But in addition to raw energy, Shin also effectively delivered on the highly emotional pivotal points of the character's self-discovery and self-resignation. She was literally in control of the audience emotional reactions throughout.

Definitely worth seeing and experiencing.

The Sparrow at Steppenwolf Theater

"The Sparrow" had a very successful run at the House Theater of Chicago resulting in a second sold-out run at The Steppenwolf Garage Theater from March 15 through April 21, 2007.

This plan was phenomenal on several levels, not least of which was the cast headed by Carolyn Defrin who plays Emily, an ostracized girl who begins to display strange powers after returning to her home town after an exile of sorts. Defrin acts, sings and dances vigorously throughout and really brings the interesting storyline to life.

Also of note here are the very creative theatrical devices which are used in lieu of elaborate stage props and sets. The Garage Theater at Steppenwolf is a rather intimate venue and does not allow for much in the way of changes in set, so the cast must improvise in order to depict and convey these elements. Small handheld houses announce the setting of particular scenes, large video screens and aggressive soundtracks pull audiences into youthful merriment, and terrified writhing of the floor amazingly depicts a fearful reach into the skies.

This was a thoroughly impressive play which I am glad I had a chance to see during its second run.