Culture Magazine

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)   
  
  
In the Jungle 

Written by Bertolt Brecht  
Directed by Keaton Wooden 
at The Brown Elephant Andersonville (map)
thru Dec 18  |  tickets: $30   |  more info 
  
  
   Read entire review
  


     

     

Hatred is an obsession in the jungle

     

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

  

Wakadoo Production i/a/w Howard Brown Health Center presents

  

In the Jungle

Review by Keith Ecker 

I find it fitting that Wakadoo Productions would stage a production of Bertolt Brecht‘s In the Jungle of Cities (here simply titled In the Jungle and adapted by Wallace Dirges) for the benefit of the embattled non-profit Howard Brown Health Center. The story is about two Chicago men—one a simple bookseller and the other a lumberyard mogul—who become locked in an obsessive metaphysical boxing match wherein both use treachery

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)
to try to defeat the other.

As anyone who has been reading the gay press knows, Howard Brown has been suffering a mass exodus of top executives since the charity was rocked by financial scandal in 2010. Much of the blame for the staffing shake-up has been placed on current CEO Jamal Edwards, whose management strategy has stoked the ire of current and past employees. Edwards, like the character of George Garga (Edward J. Eberwine III) who ascends to financial success after assuming the lumber business from nemesis Shlink (Drew Johnson), has fortuitously been bestowed with a degree of power as the head of the organization. And like Garga’s enduring relationships that steadily crumble throughout the play, so too has the morale of the health clinic.

Obviously, this is not the parallel that director Keaton Wooden wished to draw when deciding to fundraise for Howard Brown. In fact, I’m not quite sure why he chose such a challenging play that has so little to do with the GLBT community, which is the population that Howard Brown serves. I know for a fact that the elderly group of patrons that sat next to me were perturbed to discover they were being subjected to the complex headiness of a Brecht play rather than something more digestible like About Face’s The Homosexuals. Still, there’s no denying that Howard Brown’s frontline staff does good and life-saving work. And, hopefully, Wakadoo will specify in their contribution to the organization that all funds raised will go solely to support patient services instead of covering the cost of Edwards’ paycheck, which according to an interview with the Windy City Times is a whopping $265,000.

But back to dissecting In the Jungle and judging it on its theatrical merits.

This is a tough play. I’ve seen it produced before by Ka-Tet Theatre (see review here), and it utterly confused me. Still, I was left with a significant impression thanks to some great performances, which merited a three-star rating. Wakadoo’s take on the piece is much easier to comprehend thanks to some very cunning direction by Wooden. The stage is a makeshift, turn-of-the-century boxing ring outfitted with an assortment of different lighting fixtures that enable Wooden to oscillate between setting the characters in reality and setting them within the theater of their own minds. The dialogue, which is obtuse to say the least, is still just as rough and poetic as ever. But in the mouths of these capable actors, who are exceptionally skilled at delivering subtext, Brecht’s intentions become clear.

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)
Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)
Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)
Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

But despite everything that works, the play’s momentum stalls by the last half. Clocking at more than 150 minutes, the production is just too long. Perhaps the company could have staged an abridged version, because this play has the tendency to test even the most avid theater-going audience’s patience.

In the Jungle just saw its last weekend. And while I’m glad to see theater companies pairing up with local charities to raise funds for the greater good, I think it may be in everyone’s best interest to produce a play that is marketable to the charity’s donor base. I could see In the Jungle fairing better if, for example, it decided to fund the Dank-Haus German Cultural Center. You may find more audience members returning after intermission.

  

Rating: ★★★

  

  

In the Jungle continues through December 18th at The Brown Elephant Andersonville, 5404 N. Clark (map).  Tickets are $30, and are available online at brownpapertickets. More information at InTheJungleChicago.com(Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes, which includes one intermission)

Review: In The Jungle (Howard Brown Health Center)

All photos by Oomphotography


     


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • When You’re Fueled by Fat, Traveling is a Relative Breeze

    When You’re Fueled Fat, Traveling Relative Breeze

    Setting off on a journey, for most carb-eating people, usually means planning snacks for the trip, being sure to have something to munch on hand. When fueled... Read more

    5 hours, 41 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • It’s Time to ShiftShiftShift. Right Now.

    It’s Time ShiftShiftShift. Right Now.

    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." ― Galileo... Read more

    6 hours, 47 minutes ago by   Berijoy
    CREATIVITY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Unito Review: An Excellent Synchronization Platform for Your Project Management

    Unito Review: Excellent Synchronization Platform Your Project Management

    Project management tools play a vital role in the company’s growth and success. There is a number of employees in any organization, everybody works differently... Read more

    6 hours, 54 minutes ago by   Seogdk
    MARKETING & ADVERTISING, SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Stronger

    Stronger

    Brand trips are one of the coolest parts of blogging... but can also prove to be one of the most stressful. You know you will be photographed the entire time... Read more

    7 hours, 16 minutes ago by   Wardrobeoxygen
    FASHION, SELF EXPRESSION, SHOPPING
  • Purposeful Abandonment for Tomorrow’s Event Success

    Determine When to Let Go, and When to Tackle New Challenges You seldom hear a management guru advocating that you give up, but that's essentially what Peter... Read more

    7 hours, 17 minutes ago by   Marketingtango
    BUSINESS, MARKETING & ADVERTISING
  • Northern Thailand: The Best of Lanna

    Northern Thailand: Best Lanna

    To date, through 4 separate road trips in Northern Thailand, we have now covered all 9 provinces, and have put together a simple road... Read more

    7 hours, 26 minutes ago by   Allanmwilson
    DESTINATIONS, EXPAT, TRAVEL
  • Telling Your Kids They Are Smart: It's The Kiss Of Death!

    What the hell is this woman talking about? What do you mean, don't tell my kid that he/she isn't smart? If I don't say that, they will think I think that... Read more

    7 hours, 38 minutes ago by   Joanigeltman
    FAMILY, PARENTING