Kokandy Productions’ “Loving Repeating” Review – Paean to Gertrude Stein

(left to right) Caron Buinis as Gertrude Stein with Maisie Rose, Jake Morrissy, Andrew Lund, George Toles, Sarah Hayes and Stephanie Stockstill in Kokandy Productions’ LOVING REPEATING with lyrics by Gertrude Stein adapted by Frank Galati, music by Stephen Flaherty and directed by Allison Hendrix

 

Using Gertrude Stein’s own words (adapted by Frank Galati) as the lyrics to music by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Stephen Flaherty, “Loving Repeating” paints an abstract impressionist portrait of Gertrude Stein’s work, life, and lifelong love, Alice B. Toklas in verse, song and dance.  (Director:  Allison Hendrix)

 

 

True to Stein’s style “Loving Repeating” presents its story in non-linear fashion.  Stein’s Paris salon and her relationship to artists of her day doesn’t get script-time.  Instead, this is a focus on Gertrude Stein’s lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas and her signature word yo-yo poems.

 

(front to back) Amanda Giles as Young Gertrude and Caron Buinis as Gertrude Stein in Kokandy Productions’ LOVING REPEATING with lyrics by Gertrude Stein adapted by Frank Galati, music by Stephen Flaherty and directed by Allison Hendrix

 

Pre-knowledge of Stein’s story is the velcro you need to latch on to this script, which lingers in Stein’s story but doesn’t tell it.  Without familiarity with Stein’s biography, for example, you won’t appreciate the lovely set of her imagined art collection (Scenic Designer: Ashley Ann Woods).

 

(front, left to right) Emily Goldberg as Alice B. Toklas, Amanda Giles as Young Gertrude with (back, left to right) Andrew Lund, George Toles, Jake Morrissy, Maisie Rose, Stephanie Stockstill, Sarah Hayes and Caron Buinis as Gertrude Stein in Kokandy Productions’ LOVING REPEATING with lyrics by Gertrude Stein adapted by Frank Galati, music by Stephen Flaherty and directed by Allison Hendrix

 

If you ARE an enthusiast for Gertrude Stein poetry you’ll find Kokandy Productions’ typical mastery of tight and lively ensemble theater in this production to absolutely hit the sweet spot. 

 

 

(Ensemble:  Sarah Hayes, Andrew Lund, Jake Morrissy, Maisie Rose, Stephanie Stockstill, and George Toles.) 

 

(left to right) Andrew Lund, George Toles, Stephanie Stockstill, Maisie Rose, Sarah Hayes, Jake Morrissy, Amanda Giles as Young Gertrude, Emily Goldberg as Alice B. Toklas and Caron Buinis as Gertrude Stein Kokandy Productions’ LOVING REPEATING with lyrics by Gertrude Stein adapted by Frank Galati, music by Stephen Flaherty and directed by Allison Hendrix

 

But, if you are more in the camp that thinks “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, and that there isn’t much to savor in “a rose is a rose is a rose..” type verse then this is not your play.  You either walk in the door with a priori admiration for Stein or prepare to let 75 minutes go by without knowing exactly what all the fuss is about.

 

 

Love Stein—go to see it.   Stein leaves you cold or less than adoring—take a pass.

 

(left to right) Emily Goldberg as Alice B. Toklas, Amanda Giles as Young Gertrude and Caron Buinis as Gertrude Stein in Kokandy Productions’ LOVING REPEATING with lyrics by Gertrude Stein adapted by Frank Galati, music by Stephen Flaherty and directed by Allison Hendrix

 

Those who hunger for equal stage time for lesbian stories might also find “Loving Repeating” a must-see, though this reviewer found the relationship between the young Gertrude Stein (Amanda Giles) and Alice (Emily Goldberg) to lack in sizzle. 

 

 

From a perch above the main stage action Caron Buinis as the older Gertrude Stein projected the gravitas that is free-thinking Stein’s due, leaving some of us wishing her role was larger. 

 

For tickets or information visit the Kokandy Productions website or call 773 975 8150.

 

Now through August 30.

 

Theater Wit

 

1229 West Belmont Avenue

Chicago, IL

 

-30-

 

Photos: Michael Brosilow

 

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