Entries in Studio Theatre (1)



What could be better than sharing a brewski with another man friend? Milwaukee Chamber Theatre provides a fascinating portrait of two men in crisis when they present Things Being What They Are in the Studio Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center for the festive season ahead.

In this male dominated play, an acclaimed women playwright and graduate of the Yale School of Drama Wendy MacLeod draws from her personal experience, a houseful of men, a husband and two sons. When she writes the characters of Bill McGinnis and Jack Foster, these man friends bond over brews when Bill moves into Jack’s condo complex, their abodes within close proximity. 

While MacLeod contrasts the two personalities during their interesting in home conversations, she pits Jack, a man who lost his way in life when he rarely appreciated his three children until they were lost, against the very sensitive and responsive metro man Bill. His personality suggests a man bordering on being too neat and too patient with his elusive wife Adele.

After discussing careers and women over multiple micro brews, Bill remains reluctant to accept Jack’s friendship in his new life. And then suddenly, surprisingly complex concerns emerge from Bill and Jack, insight into the changes they discover within themselves. For Jack, as a father who ignored his sons, taking them for granted while misunderstanding the differences between mistress and wife. For Bill, as a practical person who complains about his choices and finding the courage to take risks when he pursued management for a steady income instead of acting.  

Both men have changed over time, morphed into something other than they thought they would become, throughout their lives. Bill passively waits for Adele instead of taking action, actually getting in his car to claim her as his own. Jack, combating his own mortality and how he sees the rest of his life, perhaps lived alone. In each other and in their own way, Bill and Jack discover these imperfections to their lives and satisfy themselves with the comforts revealed in the other man.  

Ryan Schabach plays the man in waiting throughout this bromantic comedy, the straight man in a comic script that pokes fun at women and the heartbreak of any romance. Even in the most passive role, Schabach’s character stands alone on the stage. Dan Katula’s Jack competes for all the attention in the conversations and the audience believes these two men do bond though Jack semi-bullies his way into Bill’s life. Although in the second act, Jack admirably forgives Bill for a missed commitment, a slightly unbelievable event considering Bill’s personality.

Underscoring these male friendships are the buried consequences to chance and choice every person encounters over a lifetime, experienced by either sex by only being human. Instead of acting and being like animals, as Jack insists men, and by default women might also be, in another sentence Jack’ s profound words prove he actually contradicts this sentiment, confirming his humanity when he says, “Love is not little…We are all worthy of love.”

Despite what changes and chances occur in any person’s life, either men or women, who exchange their disappointments over brews or cosmopolitans, bromances or best forever friends,  MCT's humorous performance relates life can be complicated. Filled to the brim of a beer glass with unexpected events and sublime second chances at any age. Yet, a life worthy of love, to be cared for by another human being of either sex as Jack claims everyone could be. Experience Chamber Theatre’s entertaining production with a timely message for the holiday season, that is, when things being what they are one can quote the wisdom of four British lads who were for a time exceedingly bromantic: We get by with a little help from our friends.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents Things Being What They Art in the Studio Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center though December 15. For further information or tickets, please call 414.291.7800 or click the Chamber Theatre link to the left.  by Peggy Sue Dunigan