OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Redtwist's 'Men Exposed' could use more explanation and fewer faces

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-01-11T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Redtwist's 'Men Exposed' could use more explanation and fewer facesBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

The fourth installment of Redtwist Theatre's "Dark Red" series of late-night plays, featuring playwright Scott Woldman's works, is "Men Exposed," a visit to the Las Vegas hotel suite of a group of the wild guys celebrating a buddy's final hours of freedom before he says: "I Do."

It's a plot that has been done many times before in movies and TV shows and the silly possibilities are funny to imagine.

But with a cast of eight, there's an awful lot to keep up with during the 90-minute, no intermission performance that is now playing as a Chicago premiere at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W Bryn Mawr, on Chicago's North Side until Jan. 25.

Cut the cast in half, focus more time on each of the identities, and there would be much more character development for the audience to care about while enjoying the wild ride.

Zach Finch is one of the most entertaining of the bunch, playing the sullen, inward-focused Hugh, who is tossed in with a lot of partying pros who are eager to make sure pal Mike, played very low-key by John Mark Jernigan, gets a Sin City send-off he won't forget. Beau Forbes as the intended best man Jim, seems on a roller coaster of emotions, wanting to cut others with a switchblade as his way of punctuating a sentence, while next the next minute, lost in a storytelling sequence. Matthew Webb as pothead pal Stuart doesn't have much to do, except share a bizarre story of inappropriate behavior with teens he's supposed to be babysitting. Andrew Marikis is windbag Pete and Dan Wenzel Jr. only breezes in out as the indistinguishable Brian. Christopher Hahn as Bobby is the equivalent of vanilla ice cream in this banana split splattered on stage. Ken Miller does an earnest turn as Danny, who seems to have lost his wife and is cast as a widower for a forced backstory that is never fully explained and explored.

Matt Dominguez, who is the director, needs to tighten and help scenes and sequences flow. Olivia Leah Baker handles the costume designer.

Most troubling for me, as related to the production possibilities, is the lightening design by Eric Vigo. Each of the scenes has a flashback that is supposed to be established by lighting cues that never seem to connect and frame the intended prose. And though the lighting would indicated a flashback sequence, many times, the onlooking cast member not involved with the past story still chime in and editorialize, which is odd and confusing.

Performances are at 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $15.

FYI: (773) 728-7529 or reserve@redtwist.org or visit redtwist.org.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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