Last night at the theater, my fellow audience members and I experienced the worst case I have ever seen of uncertainty about whether or not the show had actually concluded. The action stopped abruptly and the cast took no bows, so we just sat there for an agonizing eternity, exchanging uncomfortable glances as our hands, aching to clap so that we might end our misery, hung frozen in the air. After several minutes of this purgatorial torment, the house lights came up, the actors began whispering furiously behind the set (you could hear them because it was a small space), and I had to struggle to suppress the nervous giggles rising from my breast. And still we sat, until--finally--the director took to the stage to release us with an announcement about making donations on our way out. The applause following his words was the purest expression of relief I've heard in a while.
It was positively cathartic.
My short reviews of Theo Ubique Theatre Company's Evita and Congo Square Theatre Company's Saint James Infirmary are in this week's issue of the Chicago Reader.