Linchpin Theatre’s “Other Hands” Review – That Small Theater Hidden Gem You’ve Been Waiting For

Steve (Devon Nimerfroh) and Hayley (Meghann Marty) have been together as a couple for eight years

 

Maybe it’s while you wait on the second hand couches in the impromptu lobby or perhaps it is when you brush past the haphazardly draped curtain to get into the theater per se in an upstairs room of Wicker Park’s Josephinum Academy .  Somewhere in the back of your mind you too may be nursing that eternal hope for small theater in Chicago that you are about to see the equivalent of Chicago Shakespeare when performances were held in the back of a bar.  Wow!  You’ve finally hit pay dirt with Linchpin Theatre’s production of Laura Wade’s “Other Hands”!

 

 

This is a gem of a production—excellent script and top notch acting.  Granted, it’s even more of a treat because its environs is so unlike the high production value sets, costumes and other trappings of many of Chicago’s big name theaters.

 

There are only four characters in this story about a relationship that is like a well-worn old shoe about to give out.  Hayley (Meghann Marty) is a high-powered management consultant living for eight years with a gameboy obsessed one-time corporate I.T. staffer, Steve (Devon Nimerfroh) who now does freelance I.T. help work here and there.   Neither can remember whose mother gave them their bread box or why they started putting the bread outside the box instead of inside it.  We meet them at a moment when Hayley is beginning to focus on how those sorts of domestic details are weighing them down. 

 

 

Two people then come into the mix that are pivotal in how this dying relationship unfolds—

 

 

Lydia (Alison Plott), a lonely unemployed office manager who hires Steve to fix her computer,

 

 

and Greg (Gary Barth), a mid-level manager fearing change in a company that Hayley’s management consulting firm is hired to fix. 

 

 

Will someone get the memo to many of Chicago’s big name theaters that it really is a pleasure to hear actors give the appropriate accents?  (Dialect Coach, Dan Meisner)  Truth to tell we could probably hear the same script in an American accent without too much compromise of the story.  How wonderful though that these four actors have their British accents down pat!

 

 

The perfect accents are just the beginning.  The acting under the direction of David Fehr is nuanced and engaging.   It is so much fun to watch this story unfold that spoiler alerts abound.  Do get ready for a laugh about a scene that could give that famed “When Harry Met Sally” moment a run for its money.  In a wordy play, also know that you will get fun gymnastics, especially from Devon Nimerfroh as he tangles with putting on his pants despite the limitations of his repetitive motion strained frozen hands.  How wonderful that the script suggests an ending more than gives it the Hollywood feel good zip.  There is much to similarly admire in the script. It’s clear though that these superlative actors and director have given it added dimensions through many a subtle gesture and voice inflection.  Bravo!

 

You do have to turn on that leap of imagination that small theater with no discernable budget requires.  One downside is that this is a play with many frequent scene changes without benefit of a set to smooth the transition.  Not that the set design is without flair touches such as incorporating copper appearing pipes into the set as a design element (Set Design:  Eleanor Kahn).  But you too may see the actors in the dark valiantly struggling to keep a table in one piece as they try to whoosh a new scene’s set into place.

 

That said, “Other Hands” is a top recommendation—with no reservations.  Go to see it and be renewed to explore Chicago’s many small theater productions for years to come.   

 

This is a very short run, with performances only on Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings. Don’t procrastinate.

 

Now through June 15.

 

Josephinum Academy

1500 N. Bell Ave.

Chicago, IL. 60622

Entrance on east side of building on Bell Street

 

TICKETS:  $10. To purchase tickets visit brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006. (http://otherhands.brownpapertickets.com)

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