No More Sad Things Review - A Beautiful Production of a Beautiful Play

 

(front to back) Katy Carolina Collins, George Infantado and Narciso Lobo in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

Sideshow Theatre Company opens its 2015-16 season with No More Sad Things, a quirky, pensive comedy written by Hansol Jung and directed by Elly Green.  The story follows a woman, Jessiee, as she takes a spontaneous trip to Maui, where she meets a boy, has sex with him on the beach, spends the week by his side, and then must decide where to go from there. A worthy follow-up to Sideshow’s smash hit production of Stupid F***ing Bird, this well-crafted tale of an improbable yet somehow inevitable relationship is a gorgeous piece of theatre.

 

(left to right) Narciso Lobo, George Infantado and Katy Carolina Collins in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

In a scenic design class in college, I was asked to embody the concept of elegance using only abstract shapes. At the time, this seemed an impossible and absurd task, but scenic designer William Boles has proven that such a thing is both possible and enchanting. Built in curves and levels and drenched in the blues of the ocean, the set of No More Sad Things blends so seamlessly with the storytelling as to become inseparable from it. Director Elly Green uses the space expertly in her staging as well, and the combined effects of movement and space are as beautiful and striking as the play’s language, which is no mean feat.

 

(left to right) George Infantado, Narciso Lobo and Katy Carolina Collins in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

Hansol Jung is an exceptionally gifted playwright. The language of No More Sad Things is a mix of the poetic and the hyperreal, with each character’s dialogue carefully shaped to suit their personality. White mainlander Jessiee speaks in the quick cadence of a stressed Ohioan, while islander Kahekili speaks in broken, accented English that has a rhythm and beauty all to itself. Kahekili describes their conversations as “ping-pong talk,” and indeed the bouncing back and forth between styles of speaking, which would easily become jarring or confusing in other scripts, is one of the most appealing parts of this story. Jung indeed is a master of blending, with the past and the present, the real and the theatrical, the idiosyncratically comedic and the deeply sad all weaving seamlessly into one story.

 

(front, l to r) George Infantado and Katy Carolina Collins with (top) Narciso Lobo in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

The acting talent in this production is incredible. Sideshow artistic associate Katy Carolina Collins plays protagonist Jessiee with a subtle, balanced blend of high-strung energy and underlying melancholy, drawing the audience into her character’s life and struggles from her first moments onstage. George Infantado creates a charming, believable Kahekili, complete with a spot-on dialect and well-crafted physicality. Finally, I cannot fail to mention Narciso Lobo, who plays the Guidebook, a character who serves both as a narrator and as an assortment of other characters called for by the script, from an airplane pilot to Jessiee’s high school sweetheart. Lobo moves between characters with grace and skill, his narration is charismatic and engaging, and his ukulele playing is a delightful addition to the story.

 

(front, l to r) Katy Carolina Collins and George Infantado with (back) Narciso Lobo in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

No More Sad Things is the sort of show that is impossible to forget. Beautifully and masterfully written, designed, directed, and acted, it is difficult to imagine any way in which this play might be improved upon. Do yourself a favor and join the cast of No More Sad Things on their brief, bewitching trip to Maui for a breathtaking theatrical experience.

 

(left to right) George Infantado, Narciso Lobo and Katy Carolina Collins in Sideshow Theatre Company’s world premiere of NO MORE SAD THINGS by Hansol Jung, directed by Elly Green. Photo by Jonathan L. Green

 

Ticket Information

Location: Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago

Dates: Friday, November 20 – Sunday, December 20, 2015

Curtain Times: Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving).

Tickets: $20 – $30. Students/seniors/industry: $5 off all performances. Tickets are currently available at the Victory Gardens website, by calling (773) 871-3000 or in person at the Victory Gardens Box Office.

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