Monday, June 20, 2011
Festen by David Eldridge
Script Writer: David Eldridge
Director: Jonathan Berry
Jon got me tickets to see Festen for my birthday. I really like experience gifts, and he did a fantastic job finding these tickets and reading all of the reviews. Getting there was a bit of a hassle, because the Steep Theater Company is located right under the Berwyn L stop on the Redline. So, of course, we parked in the wrong place, got stuck in mega traffic, and were nearly late for the show. If you do get tickets, the seating is first come first served - so you should get there earlier than we did if you want to sit together.
Luckily, there were two seats left (not together) and we snatched them up.
The play is about a family, gathering to celebrate the father's 60th birthday. You find out early on that one of the children, Linda has recently passed away and this is the first time the whole family has been together in a while. There are some very serious revelations during the toasts and this keeps the play going. Many of the revelations were shocking and I probably sat there with my mouth wide open for 1/2 of the play.
The play begins with a lot of tension and that feeling doesn't let up for the entire show. There were moments of extreme awkwardness - the kind that leaves you feeling like you just witnessed something you weren't supposed to. It is also the kind that makes you want to leave the room so you don't feel worse!
I was also very impressed with the stage directing. The entire play takes place on a tiny stage around a dinner table. At one point there were three scenes being acted all at once and the genius of the stage-directing and writing really shone during that scene.
This play was an easy A. It was the best I've ever seen and evidently much of Chicago's theater community also loved it because the show keeps getting extended for further dates. I recommend this to anyone who wants to spend an evening being shocked by excellent acting and the storyline of the play.