Based on this paper's review for Profiles Theatre's Jump to Cow Heaven, written by Kelly Kleiman [October 4], I am compelled to defend this production for the sake of Chicago theater in general. It is true that this production evokes tension and impatience, and seeing as it depicts three lowlives hiding out in a tiny basement apartment, one of them being "Britain's Most Dangerous Man," I'd say it captures the mood precisely. There is no room for "pity and terror," as Ms. Kleiman remarked, because these characters are desperately trying to get out of their current situation, which is simply out of their control. They are essentially trapped and all prisoners of their own shortcomings and enslaved by the money that they don't possess.
However, I'm not trying to challenge specific points of the review, but rather to encourage the promotion of this type of performance. The fact of the matter is, whether you enjoy this type of material or presentation style, you have to acknowledge its legitimate impact on its audience. Perhaps the director intended to create a "cringing" feeling in its audience so that they might better empathize with the characters.
This performance is truly not for the passive theatergoer, and I too felt uneasy at times throughout the show. Still, the mere fact that it affected me made it all the more worthwhile to attend. It is exactly the type of unique theater experience that keeps raising the bar and pushing the envelope for theater in the city. And it's exactly the type of risky production that defines the level of theater in Chicago that should be celebrated and not condemned.
Bravo to Profiles, who continue to strive for originality, defying all conservative notions that could threaten to ease Chicago theater into a state of monotonous contentment. After all, if this city plans to continue its reputation as the leader in quality theater, these types of productions need to be encouraged and supported. Otherwise we might as well get used to adaptation after adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire and Of Mice and Men, as Ms. Kleiman referenced.