Thursday September 20 8:58 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

“Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” is Theater of the Absurd

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You know that scene in a movie where someone stands in front of a really bad painting and expounds on how wonderful it is, and suddenly everyone standing around – who know the painting is, in fact, terrible – start oohing and aahing? That’s how I feel about ‘theater of the absurd’. After World War II, playwrights like Ionesco and Beckett wrote plays like “Waiting for Godot”, in which they threw out conventional dramatic form. In my opinion, they managed to pull off one of the biggest cons of the 20th century.

Strumming a guitar and singing, a Musician (Melody Angel) ties all three parts together.
In “Part 1: A Measure of a Man”, “The Chorus of Less Than Desirable Slaves”, Leader (Jacqueline Williams), Second (Sydney Charles), Third (Ronald L. Connor) and Fourth (Michael Aaron Pogue) are betting their most precious possessions on whether or not Hero (Kamal Angelo Bolden) will go to the war. The Oldest Old Man (Ernest Perry, Jr.) points out the fact that Hero’s lucky dog has vanished, which changes the betting. Penny (Aimé Donna Kelly) loves Hero; Homer (Jaime Lincoln Smith) has good reasons to hate him. This could be “Godot”, but with eight characters instead of two.

“Part 2: A Battle in the Wilderness” has only three characters, Colonel aka Boss/Master (William Dick), Smith (Demetrios Troy) and Hero. Colonel, who has gotten separated from his unit, has captured a wounded Union soldier he keeps tied up in a crude wooden cage. Colonel brags about the promotion he will get when he leads a tied-up Smith in. Hero carries all of Colonel’s gear, including a foot-long feather he sometimes puts on his hat.

“Part 3: The Union of My Confederate Parts” is back on the Texas plantation, where most of the slaves have died. Homer sheltered three Runaway Slaves (Bernard Gilbert, Nicole Michelle Haskins and Tyrone Phillips). Meanwhile, Penny reported that the mistress got a letter with news of the master’s death, some proclamation. Penny is sad because she thinks that Hero died too, while Homer is glad because he wants Penny. While Homer and Penny discuss the pros and cons of escaping with the Runaway Slaves, Odyssey Dog (BrittneyLove Smith) turns up to tell Penny – yes the dog talks – that Hero is on the way home. Penny is thrilled and excited until Hero shows his true colors.

“Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” runs through June 24th at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Most reasonable parking option for the Goodman is the Government Center garage on Lake between LaSalle and Dearborn: online advance payment at www.interparkonline.com/goodmantheatre, $17.00. Running time 3 hours, 15 minutes, with two intermissions. Remaining performances are: Wednesday at 7:30 pm; Thursday at 2:00 and 7:30 pm; Friday at 8:00 pm; Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 pm; and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets range from $10-$40. FYI (312) 443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org.