Silent Theatre’s “The Dueling Gentlemen” Review – Mime Delight

 

One imagines that Charlie Chaplain would look at “The Dueling Gentlemen” playwright, director and performer Marvin Quijada with admiration, and perhaps no small amount of envy.  Quijada, with his fellow performer Marcus Fittano, has that requisite Chaplain-like elastic body movement flair for gesture that makes this silent film-like play engage. 

 

 

More though, Quijada’s face, strong-featured and full of character at rest, has a rubber-like ability to transform into a caricature, whether Quijado is conveying the firewater taste of bourbon to a teetotaler, contemplating a get-even betrayal, or showing a light bulb going off in his head. 

 

 

That magnetic pull of Quijada’s face is but one aspect of this play that draws you in with giggles.  Quijada plays “The Perfectionist” who partners with Fittanto’s “The Drunk” in a vaudeville act called “The Ugly Blonde”.  They are the odd couple at odds with one another but compelled to perform their act again and again because “The show must go on”.   In turns, they each play “The Ugly Blonde” and other parts in their skit.  There are moments when you feel it’s going on a bit too much, but then Fittanto or Quijada pull another comic prank or posture to quickly pull you back again into their playfulness.  If you aren’t laughing at their antics as the story unfolds you should seriously consider getting medical attention. 

 

 

In a word, delightful. 

 

Just like a silent film, “The Guy at the Piano” (Elliot Taggart) keeps you in tune with the action with his non-stop score (Original Composition:  Ian Custer).  He may not hit all notes right but he never misses an emotional chord. If you can tear your eyes away from the two actors—and that’s not easy—it’s fun to look at Taggart with rapt attention and neck craned to scrutinize the subtlest movements by Fittanto and Quijada to keep the music in sync with the action.

 

With the tagline, “Celebrating 10 years of creating a universal language one gesture at a time” Silent Theatre offers a unique and engaging counterpoint to its wordy cousins on Chicago stages that remind you of the great luck we have to live in a city so overflowing with acting talent. 

 

“The Dueling Gentlemen, Silent Theatre Company’s love letter to old Vaudeville”, runs now through September 20, at 2936 N. Southport Ave Athenaeum Theatre, Studio 1. 

 

For tickets or information visit the Atheaeum Theatre website or call 773.935.6875.

 

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Images courtesy of Silent Theatre

 

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