We've got a great show on our hands! The Curse on Mordrake House is officially open and we nearly sold out our first two performances at the 2016 Chicago Fringe. 3 more shows to go, and now we've got a stellar review to go with it. Come check us out before we run out of time or seats!
Sunday Sept 4 at 10pm
Monday Sept 5 at 5:30pm (Labor Day!)
Friday Sept 9 at 7pm
Buy tickets at ChicagoFringe.org
Review: Claire Zajdel, Fringebiscuit.co.uk
"The Barebones Theatre Company stuns in their Chicago Fringe production of The Curse on Mordrake House, a supernatural horror about a Summer Walker’s (gypsy) curse on the children of Sir Mordrake, an apathetic, self-important aristocrat. All three of his children fall victim to macabre supernatural forces in The company’s dynamic energy and tight acting make this an exciting and unmissable theatrical experience.
Set in 19th century rural England, playwright Dan Jackson nods to the Bard by writing in elevated iambic pentameter. Jackson’s verse is both enthralling and insightful, setting rich and complex groundwork for chilling yet truthful theatre. The no set and a few props, Barebones lives up to its name, leaving the storytelling up to the precise writing and complicated characters.
Raphael Schwartzman’s direction is eerie and intricate, setting each creature and demon in this twisted world apart by its physicality and speech pattern. Quinn Leary captivates as a slimy underworldly demon, while Amanda Lynn Meyer brings sincerity with her sympathetic yet aggressive monster known as a bogart. The entire cast is more than applaudable in a thriller that sparks an otherworldly discussion of morality is both extraordinary and specifically human.
The Curse on Mordrake House is playing at The Gift Theatre Sept. 4 @ 10pm, Sept. 5 @ 5:30pm, and Sept. 9 @ 7pm. "
Holy cow! Chicago Reader is pouring on the love this Halloween for Audience Annihilated 3: The Trouble With Angels!
Not only are we "Reader Recommended", we also made their list of The 10 Best Things to Do This Halloween!
We return tomorrow night. I won't be performing on Wednesday, but will be back on stage for the Thursday-Sunday performances. Reserve tickets now, Angel/Lead tickets are going fast!!
Full text review after the break:
Awesome opening weekend of Audience Annihilated 3: The Trouble with Angels -and we're HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by NewCity Stage! It's so much fun terrifying audiences - I only hope I can get the fake blood out of my clothes :) See below the break for the full text review.
Other recent developments:
Colee Wong, friend and former coworker, asked Amanda and her fiancé Jonah to appear in her team's entry into the Doritos Commercial Contest. We were tickled to appear as a young couple falling in love over our shared passion for Doritos. It was a ton of fun of fun to shoot, and thanks to Leo, our DP, and Max, who filled in as the sound engineer. Now we have a bunch of leftover Doritos to eat...
Also, Amanda's 1st appearance in the #SelfieGuy series is now on the Media - Film Shorts page. She'll be shooting another #SelfieGuy video in November, and will appear in at least on more after that. This is a fun goofy group, and I hope to work with these guys more in the future.
More news to come!
Edge Chicago had some very nice things to say about MEDEA, as well as some kind words about myself!
by Colleen Cottet
Wednesday Aug 20, 2014
Since my first encounter with Greek mythology at the age of nine, I've found myself endlessly fascinated by the stories of these gods and mortals entangled in struggles of power, romance, and intrigue. The story of Jason, hero in the quest for the Golden Fleece, and his sorceress wife Medea is fraught with all the elements of good drama.
This tale of adventure, heroism, betrayal, and murder has been brought to life in all manner of art form: sculpture and paintings, epic poems and novels, operas and, of course, plays. When I discovered that Dream Theatre, an Off-Loop company newly established in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, was bringing its own original adaptation of "Medea" to its intimate stage, I was eager to take it in. In doing so, I was pleased to find a very worthy production to which I'm happy to offer my recommendation.
The story opens at the beachside shack that is home to Medea (Rachel Martindale). Created from the rotting shell of the ship Argo that once brought Jason (Jeremy Menekseoglu) to Medea's land and heart, the shack is a visceral analogy of the demise of a once epic romance.
Medea, descended from gods and once a princess as well as a practitioner of magic, is now a middle-aged woman with two young sons and a husband with a wandering eye. Jason, having grown tired of wife and family in their adopted land of Corinth, has won the heart of the virgin princess Glauce, a maneuver no doubt as politically driven as passionately. Despite having aided in Jason's heroic quests and even committing murder to ensure his success, Medea has been cast away, left now with sons in whom neither parent seems to have interest.
We see Medea scold her sons, Mermerus (Anna W Menekseoglu) and Pheres (Madelaine Schmitt), relentlessly, going so far as dunking Mermerus' head underwater for a perceived slight. She remembers aloud the time before the children's births, when she was young and beautiful and the object of her husband's desire. She clearly blames their presence as a factor in Jason's betrayal, and her contempt is palpable. Jason arrives, and Medea pleads for the return of his affection. But Jason is here to offer Medea a bribe to leave Corinth for good, and to take their sons with her.
Having failed to convince Medea to depart, the youthful and gentle bride-to-be Glauce (Amanda Lynn Meyer) takes matters into her own hands, and brings an offer of her own to the scorned Medea: allow for a peaceful wedding, including the blessing of her bridal gown, and take a position of priestess in a high temple of Hera. Though the offer is made in earnest, Medea's anger soon boils into rage, and she plots to destroy the bride, demoralize her wayward husband, and rid herself of her burdensome children once and for all. The bloody conclusion, seeming inevitable given its players, is interrupted as Hera, Queen of the Gods (Kaitlin Stewart) descends, in deus-ex-machina fashion, to intervene on Medea's behalf.
Dream Theatre's "Medea" was written by Jeremy Menekseoglu, who, in addition to performing as Jason, also directed the production. The language is simple and straightforward, guiding the actors to more intimate performances than one might expect from Greek theatre. The tone of the technical designs (under the direction of technical director Paul Knappenberger) was reminiscent of '50s melodrama, very effective and fitting. The performance space is very small, seating less than 30 by my estimate, and too much grandeur would have no doubt overpowered audience and actor alike.
Given such a small space, the acting is the theatrical element that is most under scrutiny, and the ensemble cast of "Medea" had no weak links.
In particular, Martindale was powerful yet achingly human as Medea, and as Glauce, Meyer had a humble but steadfast presence that was surprising given how typically superficial her role tends to be.
The play as written was very quick-paced, roughly 75 minutes with no intermission. As a technical aside (and because I'm fussy), a mid-performance scene change dragged too long, taking the audience out of the stream of the action. It would have been more appropriate to find ways to quicken the change, or commit to an actual intermission, for the comfort of the audience.
According to the program, Dream Theatre's mission "is to shatter the barrier between actor and audience... and deliver the highest art possible in its most raw, unflinching, and entertaining form." With this solid production of "Medea" under its belt, Dream Theatre will no doubt continue to execute its mission in its new home for many productions to come.
"Medea" runs through September 14 at Dream Theatre Company, 5026 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago. For information or tickets, call 773-552-8616 or visit www.dreamtheatrecompany.com
Kind words from Chicago Theatre Beat for this must see show!!
Review by Joy Campbell
In Jeremy Menekseoglu’s creative re-imagining of the Euripides tale of a woman scorned, the classic tragedy is made more complex with the addition of personal and marital issues of our age. Characters are more layered, and the line between good and bad is less clearly drawn.
In this tale, it’s not the temptation of a younger woman and the promise of power that lures away Jason (Jeremy Menekseoglu); long before the young princess entered his life, his marriage to Medea (Rachel Martindale) had collapsed. Allegations of slovenliness, depression, and unwanted parenthood show us that even the marriage between an Argonaut and an exotic witch is not immune to the banalities of day-to-day pressures. At open, we see Medea as a Corinthian version of trailer trash, living in a filthy shack with her two young sons. She walks around half undressed, disheveled, and emotionally and physically dominating her sons, the sullen Mermerus (Anna W. Menekseoglu), and nervous Pheres (Madelaine Schmitt).
The two sons, a mere device in Euripides’ original, are more of a central focus here as the play examines the effects on children when caught in the battle between hostile, self-involved parents. Glauce (Amanda Lynn Meyer) is the virgin princess of Corinth who, ironically, tries to reconcile the family into a semblance of civility, and who treats the boys with love. She offers the olive branch to Medea with an offer worthy of Medea’s abilities. Her kindess to Mermerus and Pheres melts Jason’s heart, and he realizes his regret at not being there for them. Rather than a housebreaker, she’s the reconciling voice of sanity in their domestic mess.
As Medea, Martindale is outstanding, carrying the intensity of her characters and the poetry of Menekseoglu’s script, shifting easily from beaten-down has-been to proud priestess who is either a deeply intuitive woman or a psychopath unhinged by bitternes. As Jason, Jeremy Menekseoglu’s range is impressive, going from pompous jerk to sympathetic father.
The script is beautiful, and the language rich and powerful. Menekseoglu shows a range of skills as director, actor, and scenic and sound designer: his use of music and sound effects is immersive. Anna W. Menekseoglu’s lighting design combines with the skillful use of sound to transform the small, minimalist set into a foreign land filled with black magic and supernatural events.
The cast is solid, and the simple set and minimal props combined with Martindales’s modern costume designs create a sense of a fable hanging in time. The Deus Ex Machina is, oddly, presented fairly traditionally; I would have expected something a bit less predictable; the same goes for the resolution. Still, these are minor issues in an otherwise very enjoyable show. Dream Theatre takes some interesting chances, and shows a novel approach to old themes.
Rating: ★★★ Medea continues through September 14th at Dream Laboratory, 5026 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Fridays-Sundays at 8pm (no shows Sunday, Aug 31 or Friday, Sept 5). Tickets are $20, and are available online through Artful.ly (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at DreamTheatreCompany.com. (Running time: 90 minutes, includes an intermission)
Rachel Martindale (Medea), Anna W. Menekseoglu (Mermerus), Madelaine Schmitt (Pheres), Jeremy Menekseoglu (Jason), Amanda Lynn Meyer (Glauce), Kaitlin Stewart (Hera, Glauce understudy)
behind the scenes
Jeremy Menekseoglu (adaptor, director, scenic design, sound design), Collin Carroll (stage manager),Anna W. Menekseoglu (lighting design, co-prop design), Rachel Martindale (costume design), Dana Von (co-prop design), Paul Knappenberger (technical director)
Another excellent review for MEDEA!
When: 8/8-9/14: Fri-Sun 8 PM
Jeremy Menekseoglu continues his rigorous, bracing reimaginings of classical Greek tragedies with his most idiosyncratic offering yet at Dream Theatre Company. His Medea, a powerful witch whose sorcery won Jason all his famous battles, is now middle-aged, fleshy, and abandoned. Living in squalor in the remains of the Argo, she blames her marriage’s demise on her children, for whom neither she nor Jason have any affection. In typical form, Menekseoglu artfully combines muscular poetry, well-chosen anachronisms, and epic cruelty. But this time the seams occasionally show, and the cast struggles to find a unifying tone. Even the normally unimpeachable Rachel Martindale as Medea struggles against the script’s ever-shifting currents. Still, Menekseoglu’s imperfect vision is consistently interesting and intermittently thrilling. He’s one rewrite away from another great play. — Justin Hayford
From the Newcity Stage review by Hugh Iglarsh: Medea/Dream Theatre Company
"And the acting is like nothing else you'll see on a local stage."
Congratulations to the amazing team at Dream Theatre Company!
The character of Medea haunted Greek culture like a nightmare, embodying patriarchal anxiety and guilt. It’s a fitting subject for Dream Theatre Company’s resident playwright Jeremy Menekseoglu, who has taken Euripides’ familiar tale of the horrific vengeance of a woman wronged and transformed it, for better or worse, into a graphic horror story suited for an age not of gods, heroes and Fate, but rather of family dysfunction and random violence.
Rachel Martindale is a seriously crazy Medea, enraged at her husband Jason of Golden Fleece fame. Jason–played by the same Jeremy Menekseoglu, who also directed and designed the production–has dumped her for the young and pretty Glauce, princess of Corinth (Amanda Lynn Meyer). With a royal marriage in the offing, the graspingly opportunistic Jason has use neither for his aging wife–whose sorcery skills saved his fleece many times during his Argonaut days–nor their two neglected young sons, Mermerus and Pheres, played convincingly by Anna Menekseoglu and Madelaine Schmitt, respectively. The parentally challenged Jason cannot even remember their names, referring to them simply as “your sons.” Medea also is not the epitome of unconditional love, waterboarding her children as a disciplinary measure. What most distinguishes this version from the Euripidean original is that the kids are not props and plot devices, but rather the moral center of the play–the tragedy is theirs, not their absent and abusive parents’.
On its own hyper-subjective terms, the play works well. Dream Theatre seems to be basically a one-man show, built around Jeremy Menekseoglu’s interesting artistic and personal vision, and every moment has a quirky intensity and a what-will-they-do-next suspense. The haunted-house set, lurid-toned lighting and kitschy but catchy background music, juxtaposed against the classic text, together create a campily sinister mood, somewhere between Caligari and Rocky Horror.
And the acting is like nothing else you’ll see on a local stage. In an age of flattened affect and minimal selfhood, here we have an almost Victorian display of posing and mugging, verging on parody yet controlled and effective. Jason’s entrance is a masterpiece of nonverbal revelation, with his toy-soldier stiffness and pomposity betrayed by a twitchy, distracted air that testifies to his deep-seated fear of his abandoned wife and her witchy ways. Martindale’s Medea is a force of nature, cowing all those around her, including even Hera, queen of the gods (played by Kaitlin Stewart), who saves her at the end from Jason’s desperate attack.
“She’s a demon,” protests Jason. “Yes, but she’s my demon,” retorts Hera, the serially cheated-upon wife of Zeus.
Here the adaptation falters. Euripides, like all the Greek tragedians, was obsessed with the workings of justice in a society on the cusp between archaic religious morality and the emerging, reason-driven humanism. Tragedy was an attempt to revisit the primitive myths in light of newer values, such as–in Medea’s case–the basic injustice and dire consequences of flouting marriage vows and treating women and children as disposable property. Euripides’ Medea continues to fascinate us exactly because she’s not a monster, but a mother in desperate straits who knows that in her world there’s no future for an abandoned wife or rejected child. Her motivation is anger and vengeance, mixed with an element of twisted compassion. In this updated version, all is reduced to petty jealousy and resentment, with Jason and Medea recast as bickering narcissists who richly deserve each other, but are not worthy of their children. Medea’s supernatural rescue is puzzling, considering that the idea of her becoming a priestess of Hera was broached by the princess Glauce, whom she has just murdered.
Preserving all of the original’s considerable cruelty and gore, but less of its sublimity and scope, this “Medea” still packs a punch. As I write this, youngsters in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere are dying in wars they had nothing to do with. Sadly, the theme of children sacrificed on the altar of adult insanity remains as relevant and necessary as ever. (Hugh Iglarsh)
Dream Theatre Company, 5026 North Lincoln, (773)552-8616, dreamtheatrecompany.com. $20. Through September 14. (No show August 31 or September 5.)
- See more at: http://newcitystage.com/2014/08/12/review-medeadream-theatre-company/#sthash.RCjLnQdc.dpuf
It is the FINAL WEEKEND of Come Blow Your Horn with Oil Lamp Theater. It's been a delightful ride, romping about in Neil Simon land. If you haven't seen the show yet, tickets are going fast but there are a handful of seats left for Thursday and Saturday (Sunday is sold out, and Friday is nearly sold out!). For $5 off, enter my "Friends & Family" code, "Horn" at: http://oillamptheater.org/current_season.php. Hope to see you there!
No rest for the wicked....next up, Jeremy Menekseoglu's MEDEA, opens Aug 8, and runs Fridays-Sundays at 8pm at Dream Theatre Company's the new Dream Laboratory space through September 14th! Tickets and more info can be found at: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/3790. I'll be playing the Princess of Corinth, Glauce, as she attempts to make peace with Medea.....and I think most of us know how that ends.
Finally, I wanted to share a review of the work my very talented significant other and fellow actor, Jonah D. Winston. He is currently starring as Karl in Jedlicka Performing Arts Center's production of "Big Fish: The Musical".
Chicago Theatre Beat Review: Big Fish (Jedlicka Performing Arts Center)
Highlights: "also a knockout is Jonah D. Winston as Karl, the “giant” that Edward Bloom saves from a fearful populace. Winston has a gorgeous bass-baritone that we don’t get to hear enough of in this show."
"Winston’s Karl captures the loneliness and warmth of the giant Edward saves."
Congratulations, Jonah! Much deserved!! :)
What's up after MEDEA? Who knows? Could be something brewing at Dream Theatre, we shall see where the wind will blow!
The theatre may be dark tonight for America's birthday, but that doesn't keep the great reviews from coming in!
Here's what Tom Witom for Sun-Time Media had to say:
Theater Review: Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater gets to heart of Neil Simon comedy
Oil Lamp Theater’s trilogy of plays on American family life is off to an auspicious start with its production of Neil Simon’s 1961 comedy “Come Blow Your Horn.”
Under the direction of Keith Gerth, a solid cast clearly demonstrates that Simon’s first Broadway show still packs a lot of spunk and heart as it explores relationships between two adult siblings and their parents.
The theater’s restricted performance space suits this intimate character-driven play which is set in a tiny Manhattan bachelor pad that’s home to 33-year-old playboy Alan Baker (Chris Lysy).
Alan’s bohemian lifestyle and nonchalant work ethic get him in trouble with his boss and father, Mr. Baker (Rob Weinstein), who claims that during the six years he has worked for the wax-fruit company, Alan only put in two years at the office. Baker also insists that anyone over 30 and not married qualifies as a “bum” in his book.
Smooth-talking Alan finds himself stressed as he tries to finesse a busy love life with voluptuous but ditzy upstairs neighbor Peggy (Marisa Lerman) and girlfriend Connie (Amanda Meyer), who is pushing for a serious commitment.
Life becomes even more complicated when nebbishy Buddy (Grant Terzakis), who just turned 21, leaves a handwritten declaration-of-independence letter for his father and flees the family nest to live with his older brother and get his first taste of freedom.
The letter explains how Buddy sees no future in the wax-fruit business for himself but has ambitions to become a script writer or playwright. To which his father responds: “Plays can close. Television you can turn off. Wax lies in a bowl until you’re a hundred.”
Both parents, who rightly concerned that impressionable Buddy is on a slippery slope and a prime candidate for corruption, wage an emotionally charged campaign to get him to return home.
Weinstein’s comical characterization is spot on as a gruff, headstrong father with a sarcastic sense of humor, someone who wants the best for his sons — but only under his terms.
Denise Smolarek, in her portrayal of the neurotic, overly protective mother, steals the show in a hysterical scene when she gets flustered by a series of phone messages she can’t get straight and, for lack of a pencil, can’t write down.
Three weeks pass, and Buddy has become “a whole new person,” dating, drinking his brother’s booze, borrowing his brother’s socks and using Alan’s contacts for hard-to-get restaurant reservations.
Meanwhile, Alan — fired from his job, on the outs with Connie and increasingly appalled by his brother’s behavior — comes to a shocking self-realization that he’s more like his father than he ever thought possible. It’s a heartfelt moment.
Come here for the latest on Amanda's projects, reviews, photos, and more!