Interrobang’s “Owners” Review – Well-Acted Ideological Spoof

 

Moving at a brisk clip, Interrobang Theatre Project’s “Owners” serves up a lampoon of the ideologies behind unleashed free-will capitalism, sexism, and something akin to a Buddhist rejection of all things material.  In other hands this 1972 script by British playwright Caryl Churchill might easily have fallen flat.  But in Interrobang’s production the action moves as quickly and smoothly as their circular revolving set (scenic design—Joe Schermoly)-- so much so that it is only at the end when we realize there isn’t much there there in the script itself.

 

 

We laugh a lot as the characters, each more aptly described as a caricature, interact in an improbable story line.   Co-Artistic Director of Interrobang and Director of this production Jeffry Stanton has done not one but many things very right, as does every member of the cast. 

 

 

Brynne Barnard is the real estate mogul Marion whose drive to possess all—buildings, her former lover’s ardor and child, and anything/everything in her path—is the center of the story.  Oblivious to her gender, she sums up her world view “we men of destiny get what we’re after even if we’re destroyed by it”.   At another moment she compares herself to other females by saying, “most women are fleas but I’m the dog.”

 

Marion’s butcher husband Clegg played by Matt Castellvi schemes to murder his wife, and serves up so much sexist stereotype tripe that he makes Archie Bunker compare as a nuanced thinker.   We can’t help but laugh when we watch him ogle sexy women on the TV or lament his fate of being married to a woman who is anything but the gentle sex he imagines is his due.

 

Worsely played by Christopher James Ash is Marion’s assistant and ardent admirer who in every scene reveals his latest bungled attempt at suicide. 

 

 

Matt Browning is Alec, Marion’s laconic former lover who has recently found himself without any desires other than to just be. 

 

 

His wife Lisa, played by Abbey Smith, artfully gives us many flavors of hysteria as she tries to cope with the machinations of all those around her and the near catatonia of her husband.

 

That’s the stew of the plot. 

 

Because playwright Churchill has socialist leanings the works of George Bernard Shaw who similarly draws characters with something less than 3D comes to mind.  With Shaw we are always treated to great repartee and a language feast.  Not so with this script, but where Churchill trumps Shaw is in giving us a super-absurd story line with laughs at every turn.

 

“Owners” will run through November 2, and is performed at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago.

 

For tickets call the Athenaeum box office at 773 935 6875 or visit the Athenaeum website.

 

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Photos:  Emily Schwartz

 

 

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