Chicago stalwarts Hollis Resnik and Jeff Still will be Eugene Ionesco’s version of Didi and Gogo as they wait for an elusive Orator in the Court Theatre’s production of The Chairs, which will run at the Chicago company Nov. 8-Dec. 9. Martin Platt directs a translation by Martin Crimp — the same version used on Broadway a few seasons back.
Resnik and Still play the Old Man and Old Woman, a decrepit couple who live in an empty old house located on some nameless sea. There, they wait for and then attend to the (to us) invisible guests they have invited to listen to the message of a famous Orator. The Old Man has hired the latter to deliver an important message to the world, a life-changing revelation he feels he hasn’t the skill to communicate accurately. The play gets its title from the countless chairs the couple set up for the supposedly capacity crowd — all for a speaker who turns out to be something less than expected. Brendan Averett plays the Orator.
Resident Artist Hollis Resnik appeared at the Court as Myra Arundel in Noel Coward's Hay Fever, as well as in Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards, The Learned Ladies, The Little Foxes, La Bête, The Play's the Thing, An Ideal Husband, The Misanthrope, Travesties and Celimene and the Cardinal. She has won eight Jeff Awards and the Sarah Siddons Award for Piaf.
Jeff Still played Orson Welles in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Westport Country Playhouse production of Austin Pendleton’s Orson’s Shadow. Also at Steppenwolf, he appeared in A Clockwork Orange, Golden Boy, Wolf Lullaby, and You Can't Take it With You.
* The Court Theatre's 2001-02 season—which will feature new looks Shakespeare's Hamlet and Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady, as well as, in collaboration with "Broadway in Chicago," a two-week run of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen — began on Sept. 6 with Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart.
Copenhagen will come in early 2002. Frayn's play about a pivotal and morally murky meeting between two physicists in 1941 Denmark won the 2000 Tony Award for best play. Michael Blakemore won another Tony for his staging of the drama and will repeat his work here. The Court press office notes that the theatre "is in residence at the University of Chicago, where the Manhattan Project achieved the first self-sustaining, controlled, nuclear chain reaction."
The run of the play, from Feb. 5 to Feb. 17, will be at Chicago's Shubert Theatre and is considerably shorter than the average stay of a Court Theatre show. Court spokesman Jay Kelly said that there would be no problem accommodating all Court subscribers.
Chicago, which was recently visited by Peter Brook's production of Hamlet, will see another version of the tragedy at the Court in February 2002, when Charles Newell directs Guy Adkins in the title part. Concluding the season will be My Fair Lady, the ever-popular musical adaptation of Shaw's Pygmalion, directed by Gary Griffin. Kate Fry will be Eliza Dolittle.
A fifth play has yet to be announced.
The 2001-02 schedule runs as follows:
The Court is located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue. For more information, call (773) 753-4472.
—By Robert Simonson