The Secret in the Wings | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Secret in the Wings

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

The Secret in the Wings, Lookingglass Theatre Company. Mary Zimmerman's remount of her 1991 meditation on fairy tales is charming, funny, skillfully cast, cleverly designed--and as thoroughly empty an evening of theater as I've seen lately. This slight, self-conscious work has little to say about fairy tales, here drawn mostly from the dustier corners of the Grimm brothers canon, that hasn't already been said by theorists like Bruno Bettelheim and poets like Anne Sexton.

Zimmerman's thesis boils down to "Boy, these stories sure are scary and twisted, but kinda cool too, huh?" It's a thesis that's completely inarguable, and hence dramatically inert. The nine cast members, six of whom were in the original production, look good and do their best to engage with the material. But adapter-director Zimmerman seems more interested in shtick from the actors' undergrad days--like David Kersnar's hilarious party-trick impression of a lizard--than she is in tapping the characters' deeper impulses. Too many segments involve stylized vocal and physical repetitions that don't enliven the script but rather flatten it like a tin can under an 18-wheeler.

Only non-Lookingglass member Tony Fitzpatrick thoroughly enchants. He plays both a harried father whose desire for silence condemns his seven sons to live as swans and a crusty ogre, complete with comically long tail courtesy of costume designer Mara Blumenfeld, sent to babysit a precocious girl.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment