How To Run For Mayor
The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival provides an important birthing-space for Chicago-connected, nascent musical theater to access our city’s storefront-ethos, where new plays are frequently produced and honed. Despite the temptation to praise the sheer effort of the production team, adding music to words, vice-versa, or in combination, and of the performers to stretch themselves by quickly learning new material, and re-working it in a workshop situation, it is incumbent upon the reviewer to present a significant opinion of the offerings and their champions, in service to all involved. In the case of “How To Run For Mayor,” playwright Gilbert Tanner and composer/lyricist Aaron Aptaker (who also directs) enjoy this opportunity.
A one-act play, despite its expectedly quick-moving structure, nevertheless requires a plot that begins with a premise, presents a conflict and concludes. “How To Run For Mayor” has, in its growth, yet to answer those qualifications. Seeming to rely heavily on the structure of sketch comedy, and borrowing unfortunately from the surprises of Theatre of The Absurd, the piece introduces the characters unwisely, produces a conflict of character-conscience, and attempts to resolve itself by stomping through a pool of self-pity, with the slightest and most obvious lesson.
Trent Eisfeller gives a compelling portrait of a handsome and quite insane incumbent mayor, with really terrific hair. The creators introduce this character, the antagonist, first, which isn’t the strongest choice, as the story seems to begin with the protagonist’s entrance. Eisfeller is left to set the tone with a bizarre monologue, where exposition might better serve. Eisfeller’s pretty, lyrical voice is taxed by the histrionic screaming as written and/or directed, perhaps funny at first, falling flat before the finale. Read the rest of this entry »