FALL 2016: The Promise of a Rose Garden

Promise biz card front


By: Dustin Spence
Director: Elyse Dawson*
Violence Design: Rachel Flesher


July 30 – September 10, 2016
At City Lit Theater: 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago
(on the 2nd Floor of the Edgewater Presbyterian Church)
Recommended SignagePreviews: 7/30 at 8:00pm; 7/31 at 3:00pm; 8/4 at 8:00pm; 8/5 at 8:00pm
Press Opening: Saturday, 8/6 at 8:00pm
Closing Night: Saturday, 9/10 at 8:00pm
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm
This production uses realistic staged violence in the telling of the story, including wartime combat situations.  Some scenes feature replicas of military weaponry, fog, sound effects of gunshots and explosions, and a blank-firing pistol.
* denotes BWBTC Ensemble Member





HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The cast is astoundingly sure-footed, brutish and graceful; take the Deciding Angels, played nimbly by Catherine Dvorak and Aaron Wertheim, who twist themselves into unsettling shapes that add to their nightmarish air. In amazingly rough-hewn turns, Sam Long, Izis Mollinedo and Charlie Baker breathe brute force and sweat into Ferguson, Ruiz and Nichols. The true stand outs of this production, however, are Arti Ishak as Lieutenant Sharif, who is so still and unfazed that her brief flashes of anger are potent and chilling, and Maureen Yasko as Captain Rockford. You can’t take your eyes away from Rockford as she descends into devastation; bounding nervously away from everyone who seeks to aid her, and recoiling at the deep wounds she inflicts.
“Rose Garden” is visceral, hard-hitting, and it arrives on the Chicago theater scene like water to quench an unfortunate drought of substantive roles of women and actors of color. It’s an astoundingly timely choice, and as Elyse Dawson’s directing debut, it’s the knock out of the park that many directors work their entire careers to achieve. DICE RATING: d20- “One of the Best” Theatre by Numbers
NEWCITY STAGE TOP 5: September 1-15, 2016
RECOMMENDED! Dustin Spence’s devastating new play directed by Elyse Dawson….
In both mind and body, these women are the hardest of the hard. They show it in their casual brutality towards each other. They show it in their delight in the fight: fists flying, elbows slamming with boots to heads and impassivity towards any wounds including their own.
The eye of the storm is not the story of their feminist triumph in unusual circumstances but the malaise of a system built on masculine notions of dominance…. “Whoever desires glory, the glory belongs entirely to God,” says Sharif (a fiery-eyed Arti Ishak), the Ivy League-educated immigrant rebelling to pursue something so exceptional that the odds of achieving it are a death’s breath from impossible. She alone confronts Rockford (stunning Maureen Yasko), a woman officer and war hero, whose traumas on the field are rearticulated in the chaos of her personal life and the cruelties only a woman given power in an order created by men to oppress them can enact upon her own self. –Newcity Stage
RECOMMENDED! (Maureen) Yasko gives easily the most powerful performance of the show as Rockford, while (Arti) Ishak displays a hot-blooded simmer as Sharif. (Sam) Long is convincing as Ferguson, who joins the unit with a chip on her shoulder. (Aaron) Wertheim brings sincerity to a role that could have been sappy if misplayed, and (Catherine) Dvorak brings an empathic kindness to the role of Tina. Both Wertheim and Dvorak are also impressive as the Deciding Angels, moving through the space with an almost acrobatic athleticism. Director Elyse Dawson is imaginative in her staging….
The set design by Milo Bue is efficient, with the destroyed car being the most atmospheric setpiece. The action is deftly enhanced by the lighting design of David Trudeau and the hypnotic sound effects of Matthew Reich, especially in the Deciding Angel scenes. As in most BWB productions, the stage combat is well-choreographed by Rachel Flesher. –Chicago Theater Beat
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! (Playwright Dustin) Spence keeps the khaki-clad thrills coming as he tracks the progress of Nichols, Ferguson, Ruiz and Sharif—members of the U.S. Marine Corps taking advantage of the 2015 announcement opening combat duty to women by volunteering for the grueling Advance Infantry Officer Course—and their two sole surviving predecessors, Selmy and Rockford.
Increased social awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder enables Spence to summarize Rockford’s descent into post-combat irrationality with relative coherency, but what commands our attention and sympathy is Maureen Yasko’s carefully modulated performance in a role that proclaims its outcome at the play’s very beginning, yet still succeeds in generating suspense over her welfare.
Playgoers looking for summer action-adventure excitement will find plenty of it in this saga of pioneering underdogs seeking the recognition bestowed upon our country’s elite troops. –Windy City Times
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Don’t miss this. Babes With Blades is back to their stage combat roots with this intense grrrrrrl combat production. Poignant and powerful stuff!! -ChIL Mama

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