Corn Productions on North Lincoln Avenue emerged from its pandemic induced hiatus with a brand new play by clown and actor Felix Abidor. Naturally the results are funny.
Set in an old house, a young witch wanna-be Amelia, played by with sweetness and smarts by Grace Fay Brooks, moves in with three elders to improve her craft. Her roommates are the over the top colorful, possibly ex stripper, Griselda, embodied by Pamela Chermansky, the sweet mumu wearing and spacy Shirah, portrayed by Ellen Shaw, and always brutally honest but compassionate Harah, played by Paula Sjogerman. Amelia’s father, played by Jacob Michael Stuckert, a banker and sometimes robotic embodiment of capitalism, is not thrilled with the arrangement and attempts to foreclose on the house to get her to come home. To be fair, the mortgage has not been paid in 72 years. The housemates decide to put on a show after kidnapping the dad in order to crowdfund the back payments. Throw in the invocation of Satan and an old love of Griselda’s named Mennochio reanimated into an inanimate object that happens to be a puppet, and it's a madkap 90 minute show with a short intermission. There’s a test that includes scrubbing a glowing toilet, there is the budding sense that Shirah has serious dementia, there is a fabulous fight scene with the Golden Girl witches. There is a beautiful exchange of mentor and mentee between Harah and Amelia where you begin to get inklings of sisterhood forged in fire and mud. There is not however a strongly structured or easily deciphered plot and that dissipates the juice of this could be feminist work. The overall impression is one of hidden treasure that needs a bit of digging out and burnishing. Director Zoe Sjogerman makes big choices to enrich and ground the show and let little nuggets shine through.
It's a nice night of entertainment in a great neighborhood, sitting in amazingly comfortable seats in a classic Chicago storefront theatre. The bits are filled with humor, more like a comedy review than a narrative that will leave you with a message that you feel is in there. The actors are a joy to watch, and it is so life affirming to see older women on a stage with roles they can chew on. And with fight scenes.
The Bog Witch Variety hour is playing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays until April 22, 2023 at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. For tickets and information go to https://www.cornservatory.org/
For more reviews go to www.TheatreInChicago.com