Broadsword Review - A Heavy Metal of a Play

James D. Farruggio is Victor, Cyd Blakewell is Becca, John Gawlik is Tony and John Kelly Connolly is Nicky in Broadsword: A Heavy Metal Play

Rocking hard on the northwest side is Broadsword.  Billed as a “heavy metal play,” Broadsword is more Charlie Daniels (think “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”) than School of Rock.  Taking place in a certain type of basement (the type with Metallica posters, discarded beer cans, a bunch of guitars, and a plugged in amp) three one-time band mates gather to mourn their own.  Seems that the eccentric musical genius of the bunch has gone missing and mom has finally accepted that he is gone forever.  Or is he?  When the man with the British accent arrives strange things start to happen and almost anything becomes possible.

Gabriel Franken is the mysterious Man in White and John Gawlik is former Broadsword front man Tony

Written by Marco Ramirez and directed by Keira Fromm, Broadsword is a lot of, to paraphrase one character, “elegant dissonance.”  Beginning with the characters, all of whom looking as if they have been run through by life, and continuing through the metaphysical happenstances of Act 2, drama here is presented as an almost existential quandary.  And one gets the sense that no one here knows exactly how they ended up in a basement middle aged and washed out.  John Kelly Connolly as Nicky perfectly epitomizes the feel of the play as the loud and bitter bartender who used to play a mean set of drums.  James D. Farrugio, John Gawlik, and Cyd Blakewell also fill their roles as former band mates and girlfriend exceptionally well.  Chuck Spencer (Dr. Robert Thorne) and Gabriel Franken (Man in White) add just the right amount of mystery and downright creepiness to the stage.  In the very intimate confines of the Gift Theater, we get much more than a snapshot of each character.

 

Not everything here is perfect as the story does become a bit predictable toward the end.  The tension in the first act also seems ridiculously high with characters repeatedly lunging out at one another.  But the story surprises enough to be entertaining.  The dialogue is also witty enough to provide a few laughs.  Although in the end I was more than happy to leave the basement, I would not mind at all catching up with them at some dive bar on Milwaukee Avenue.

James D. Farruggio is former Broadsword bassist Victor

Bottom Line:  Broadsword is recommended for its sometimes surprising story and witty dialogue.  The acting here is also top notch.  Broadsword is playing at the Gift Theater (4802 N. Milwaukee) through November 24th Thursday through Saturday at 7:30.  Sunday performances are at 2:30.  Tickets range from $20 to $30.  To purchase tickets click here.  For more theater reviews or information about theater in Chicago go to Theater in Chicago.

Photo credit: Joshua Longbrake

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