Hot on the heels of winning multiple Jeff Awards for THE MOTHER as well as the Emerging…
Oracle’s THE JUNGLE Misery Meats Company
Reviewed by Dave McGuire
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair has been adapted for stage by Matt Foss, it is currently playing at the Oracle Theater. The Jungle is heavy, weighted material, a warning, this is not a feel good romp, so if you are looking for a light heart, it may not be for you. Are there laughs, yes, are there moments of amazement; yes.
Is there a happy ending? Hmm, well you’d have to see it to know. There is no grandeur, there is no spectral, there is now full orchestra. What there is is brilliant theater, plain and simply perhaps the best new art in Chicago at present. Put on by one of the finest companies, in the area, you can tell they have a passion for the stage and for the material.
The Oracle Theater should itself take a bow, it’s mission is to bring art to those that cannot afford it, all tickets are free, please donate if you can to this awesome group, for it is your donations that keep the small artists of the world alive. What is society with out art? Not culture that’s for sure.
The Oracle doesn’t have much, and neither do the characters in the play, immigrants fleeing the oppression of Russia, wanting only the promise of freedom, willing to work hard for it. To give everything for it. They do too. Even until death they work, they fight, they die, and all for the American dream. What the theater does with the little they have will, blow you away. The Jungle adapted to stage with it’s weight its social conscious, it’s wholly depressing struggle of labor, vs the company. Could prove wholly depressing if not for the high energy with which the cast and crew, bring it to you. The use of the set as percussion to punctuate the death march music. The use of paint and paper to transport the audience around the families new world, paint splatters across the stage like cow blood dripping from the fingers of the damned slaughter house workers. Brilliantly staged and executed by all involved, the company over comes the danger of depressing the audience and instead gives them a highly, motivating, thought provoking piece.
In this era that we live in I cannot reason better way to hold the mirror up to the face of our nation, And ask the question were you’re grand parents any different. When the, Poles, Russians, Irish and Italians fled their homes dreaming of the new world. A world that welcomed them only to beat them to death. Yet they fight, they work, they earned their freedom, this town is theirs now. The won in the end, history and the Chicago, flag tell the tale. Every now and then we need to hold up that mirror, and that is what a true artist does. The folks at the Oracle are holding the mirror, do you dare look do you dare see. I think you can, I think you should, other wise you might miss a master piece of high art.
So sure if you want to see fluff, and laugh, this is not for you. If you want to see the birth canal of true art then the Oracle delivers. It is raw, it is sparse it is minimalist and it is grand.
THE JUNGLE runs through September 6, 2014 at Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway, Chicago.Reservations are highly recommended, and can be made at publicaccesstheatre.org.