Not That Will Rogers


Don’t Let “Not Enough Air” Suffocate.
February 4, 2009, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Companies, Shows | Tags: , , ,
Tom Howards famous photograph of Ruth Snyders exicution

Tom Howard's famous photograph of Ruth Snyder's exicution

I often agree with Chris Jones but this is not one of those times.  I don’t mean to say that all the negative assesments of Timeline Theatre’s current production of Masha Obolensky’s Not Enough Air were wrong.  There were some flaws in the play but I think that he missed the mark a bit.  The compelling components of the production far outweigh those that would bring it down.

The show is the story of Sophie Treadwell, pioneering journalist-turned-playwright responsible for giving us the play Machinal in 1928.  We follow Treadwell as she becomes obsessed with the trial of Ruth Snyder, the murderess that inspired the landmark play.  Finally sentenced to death, Snyder infamy is due in large part to a photograph of her being electrocuted taken by a hidden camera strapped to the ankle of Chicago Tribune’s Tom Howard.  There is much more to it, but your best bet is to visit the Timeline website and take advantage of the bounty of historical knowledge you will find there.

Nick Bowling’s direction is magical.  The opening montage had me hooked and when there were dips in the story he certainly found a way to keep it moving and intersting to watch.  Down to the sound of the large metal doors, the detail really stroked the part of me that might otherwise focus on flaws.

Also don’t miss the chance to watch Janet Ulrich Brooks work for two hours.  I’ve followed here through many of Timeline’s shows where I’ve only had the pleasure to watch her ins upporting roles.  She is a craftsman, er craftswoman.  I have to admit I love her in juicy character roles.  She can certainly put on an accent and make you laugh out loud.  But with Sophie Treadwell she commands a much difernt power.  She is strong and vulnerable and delightful

And in the grand traditioin of Timeline shows, I left smarter than I came in.  I will admit to moments of confusion, due largely to my ignorance of Machinal.  But never fear.  Starting this Sunday, Timeline will be presenting concert readings of the play every Sunday and Monday through March 2. Get tickets here

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Janet Ulrich Brooks as Sophie Treadwell