First things first, Brewed has nothing to do with beer. Brewed here rhymes with stewed and that is exactly what happens in families. Stuff stews breeding resentment, anger, and conflict ready to surface at the next Thanksgiving dinner. For in the high stakes world of family relationships, no argument or deed is ever truly forgotten. In Brewed (written by Scott T. Barsotti and presented by the equally spunky Ruckus and Tympanic Theatre Company), six sisters and a girlfriend navigate the tricky world of obligation and personal happiness.
What I like about Brewed is that everything is so damn literal. For most families, it takes a lot to keep things moving along. Here a pot must be stirred forever and each sister has her own spoon. My brother and I sometimes fight, but in the world of Brewed the sisters look like they are auditioning for Fight Club (by the time the play was over there were mangled feet, bloodied noses, and blackened eyes). And sometimes it’s a little annoying when ones accomplishments are not given the attention they deserve. In Brewed only one sister bothers complementing Nannette (Meredith Rae Lyons) on being the first woman to win a NASCAR race. And, finally, we all have experienced the stress of introducing a loved one to family. Trust me, whatever your story is, it went down smoother than it does here. If nothing else, Brewed made me happy for the family I have.
Director Anna C. Bahow and cast members do a wonderful job of not letting the story completely dissolve into metaphor. The violence, when it comes, is often unexpected and the laughs appeared natural (favorite line of the night, delivered perfectly by Elise Mayfield, is “Are you all witches or what?”). The actresses put a lot on stage and they really were a joy to watch. Richard Gilbert and Victory Bayona (both credited as Violence Design) deserve a lot of credit too for their wickedly staged fight scenes.
In the end, Brewed made me think a lot of family arguments passed. This in turn made me want a drink so maybe it did have something to do with beer after all.
Bottom Line: Brewed is recommended for its very dark satire and wickedly awesome fight scenes. It is playing at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont) Thursday through Saturday at 8 P.M. and Sunday at 7 P.M. To purchase tickets or for more information click here: www.ruckustheater.org or www.tympanictheatre.org . For more theater reviews click here: www.theaterinchicago.com .
All photos by Gerard Van Halsema