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Windy City Playhouse’s “End Days” Review – Relish the Irreverence

By Amy Munice

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When will you belly laugh the most? 

 

Will it be when Jesus pulls a sweetener packet from his robe sleeve for his newbie follower as they each sip the Starbucks coffee she has bought for them? 

 

 

Or perhaps when the boy next store with a nearly lifelong Elvis infatuation rehearses the Torah portion for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah sounding like the King himself? 

 

Then again there’s the moment when Stephen Hawkings moves his wheelchair back and forth to keep pace with the stoned Goth-Satanic styled daughter on a swing who is conjuring a conversation with him on the meaning of life… 

 

Those and more to choose from, “End Days” doesn’t skimp on absurd moments that bring out the laughs—from titters to runaway giggles to tears of mirth. Most of the fun comes from cheap but hilarious shots at fundamentalist thought.   If you’ve about had it with the war on science, “End Days” is going to cure what ails you with wave after wave of irreverent joy. 

 

 

Warning:  If you are noting the signs from God that we are near the end of days THIS IS NOT YOUR PLAY.  In fact, “End Days” has your belief system in its gun sights and it is one hilariously funny bulls-eye.  May we thank you in advance for skipping the fatwa part that fundamentalists elsewhere seem to thrive on and ask you just to stay home and leave the seats clear for the rest of us?   Or perhaps you can cool your jets by noting that renowned atheist Stephen Hawkings is lampooned in nearly equal measure.  Well, “equal” might be a bit of an exaggeration.

 

 

Sylvia Stein (Tina Gluschenko) is the lapsed granddaughter of Orthodox Jews who has recently met Jesus and has a very personal relationship with him. 

 

 

Her main problem is that her daughter Rachel (Sari Sanchez) and husband Arthur (Keith Kupferer) are not fellow believers and when The Rapture comes she’ll be going to heaven without them. 

 

 

Enter a neighbor boy (Stephen Cefalu Jr.) fascinated both by Elvis and Rachel whose sweetness seems to be interwoven with just enough Ausberger traits that he is able to meld into this family that was rendered dysfunctional by 9/11.  

 

 

This wild brew is heated up when Sylvia tricks Jesus into admitting that the end days’ trumpets will sound in the very next week. 

 

 

Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer’s script lets these wonderful actors go to town.  How on earth is Steven Strafford going to find a role to top that of his double bill as Jesus and Stephen Hawking?  How come whenever we see Keith Kupferer in a role we feel within minutes that we’ve known the character he plays for years?  Wacky, fun, irreverent-- who knew Director Henry Godinez, whom most of us know from his more serious ventures into Latino-themed theater—had it in him?

 

 

Best yet, this debut production is a great sign that the new two-leveled 6900 square foot Windy City Playhouse seating up to 149 created by Amy, Milan and Josh Rubenstein is going to rock Chicago’s theater scene with hits and a theater experience of a new order. 

 

 

Many of the seats swivel around small tables where you can wine and dine in style.  (Note: not 3-buck chuck wannabees—some of these wine bottles go for $125, listed along with many a craft beer, and also production-themed cocktails too such as “Arthur’s rapture—angel’s envy bourbon, dolin rouge, el guapo chickory-pecan bitters cocoa puff bitters and flamed orange.”

 

 

Calling itself “Chicago’s newest Equity theater”, Windy City Playhouse’s inaugural season will include four productions through to December 6.

 

 “End Days” runs from now until April 26.

 

Windy City Playhouse

3014 West Irving Park Road

Chicago, IL 60618

 

For tickets call 773 891 8985 or visit the Windy City Playhouse website.

 

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Photos:  Justin Barbin unless otherwise indicated

Published on Mar 24, 2015

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