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R E D T W I S T T H E A T R E P R E S E N T S
by Donald Margulies
Directed by Ted Hoerl
By Catherine Hellmann
I felt like I was at Windy City Playhouse and was looking for the cheese curls, popcorn, and spray cheese can snacks. The set is Professor Ruth Steiner’s apartment, and the audience members are the eavesdroppers in her living room lined against the walls. For a play about sharing secrets and subsequent indiscretion, the intimacy is perfect.
Jacqueline Grandt (Ruth) and Jillian Warden (Lisa)
“Write what you know” is the oft-repeated piece of advice to aspiring authors about writing. In Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, Lisa Morrison is a young, ambitious yet uncertain grad student meeting her idol/teacher Dr. Steiner for the first time. Lisa is writing about what she knows in her autobiographical selections that eventually culminate in her first published book, Eating Between Meals. She adores Dr. Steiner from her reputation as an author. Lisa fawns so much initially over her prof that it is cringey. Dr. Steiner is very no-nonsense, a little abrupt, blunt, and describes herself as “Thelma Ritter would play me in the movie.” (I love that line!)
The first time that Lisa is published, Ruth’s surprise and tinge of jealousy is palpable. She wants her student to succeed, but as a fellow artist, Ruth may not truly want her protege to surpass her. (That Artist Ego is hard to shake.) We see Lisa expand her repertoire as a writer while Ruth’s health declines. But Lisa’s first novel is not a tale she experienced firsthand. Is it still fair game to share with the world?
The book in question is obviously inspired by Ruth’s affair decades ago with a well-known poet many years her senior. Ruth reveals this precious memory of her past when pressed by Lisa. Lisa uses it as a springboard for her novel a few years later. Ruth, understandably, feels betrayed.
All along, Ruth has stressed that “writers are all rummagers.” Lisa reminds Ruth that she herself taught Lisa to be “ruthless.” But Ruth feels her favorite student has “turned into a spy.” Ruth confesses that watching Lisa’s star ascend reminds Ruth of her own mortality.
The two actresses are fantastic. Redtwist Company Member Jacqueline Grandt is wonderful in every role. The part of Ruth Steiner is perfect for her. Making her Redtwist debut is Jillian Warden as Lisa. She holds her own next to Ms. Grandt.
On their first meeting, Ruth is surprised to discover Lisa is not who she thinks she is. “My students match their stories.” Lisa’s first story is too serious, and her personality is just too earnest. For these two writers, they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Catherine Hellmann is a teacher, mom of teachers, daughter of a teacher…and a self-professed Theater Whore.
Prominent author Ruth takes her fiction student Lisa under her wing – until Lisa’s success comes in the form of a story that’s much too familiar to Ruth. When her protege publishes a salacious story that can only be traced back to her mentor, their relationship is challenged. Spanning six years, this play takes a searching look at the lives of a pair of writers and the tangled connections between creativity and ideology.
Jacqueline Grandt* (Ruth Steiner), Jillian Warden (Lisa Morrison) Understudies: Jean Marie Koon (Ruth Steiner), Meghann Tabor (Lisa Morrison) THE STAFF
E. Malcolm Martinez (Box Office Manager), Karen Epton, Johnny Garcia & Amanda Grissom (Box Office Associates), Charlie
Marie McGrath (Producing Artistic Director)
*indicates Redtwist staff or company members
Opens: Sun, May 1, 3pm
Showtimes: Thu, Fri, Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 3pm
Closes: Sun, Feb 13, 3pm
Previews: $15; Thu, Fri, Sat, Apr 28, 29, 30 at 7:30pm.
Runtime: 2 hours, with one intermission
Tickets: Thursdays, $35; Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, $40 (seniors & students $5 off)
Website/Tickets: www.redtwisttheatre.org Call: 773-728-7529
Redtwist is located at 1044 W Bryn Mawr, 2 blocks W of LSD, 2 blocks E of the Red Line EL station. Please be aware of the ongoing construction on the Red and Purple lines, which cause delays. Valet parking for Redtwist is available across the street in front of Francesca’s Bryn Mawr for most performances—hours vary. Dining is not required. Parking is also available at Edgewater Mexican Café, with notification of restaurant staff. Dining is not required. Limited FREE street parking is available on side streets. There is paybox street parking via ParkChicago.com app. The paybox is 3-hours on the Redtwist block of Bryn Mawr, and 2-hours on side streets. Paybox parking is free on Sundays, and after 10pm Mon thru Sat.