Theater Review: Step Up Productions Gives the Gift of ‘HoliDaze’

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Average: 5 (3 votes)

CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014. Comedy/Tragedy Rating: 4.0/5.0
Play Rating: 4.0/5.0

This is an eclectic bunch, with themes and subjects that range from the life cycle to New Year’s Eve connections. There are interesting lives to experience, including a hook-up at a business convention that produces relationship ennui. The one-act plays are poignant, funny and radical, and is a perfect respite from the runaround of the holidays, with enough tinsel to keep the Xmas on the 25th.

’Gift Horse Grill, Part of Step Up Productions ‘HoliDaze’
Photo credit: Step Up Productions

The six one-acts are “Lunch Box Love” (by Steven Simonic), “Christmas Armaments” (Dana Lynn Formby), “Perfect Space” (Joshue Rollins), “Christmas at the Staples Center” (Aline Lathrop), “Gift Horse Grill” (Kristiana Rae Colón) and “A Couple of Nobodies” (Steven Peterson). Each explore a situation of human nature, with characters trying to work out the nature of both their conflicts and the season. The wonder of each is the where and when, all unique in what circumstances they give their inhabitants.

Standouts are “Perfect Space,” an elegy to Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe that devolves into a intimacy between two fans. “Gift Horse Grill” is strangely symbolic, with a red-clad figure that is giving away bit more than presents – and within our current Ferguson/New York/Cleveland climate, very sharp within the debate of racial stereotyping. The quiet beauty of “A Couple of Nobodies,” with a perfect interaction between actors Elizabeth Antonucci and Anthony Venturini, facilitating a New Year’s connection between two lost souls. There is a warm fuzziness to the evening, but also a nod towards the challenges of our lives.

’A Couple of Nobodies’ in ‘HoliDaze’
Photo credit: Step Up Productions

The bare stage goes through remarkable transformations, with the actors themselves performing a regimented choreography that sets each scene. The sound design is notable as well, with some nice choices for atmospheric music, and effects like a echoing announcement at at large convention center (“Christmas at the Staples Center”). Time and place is everything in a theater illusion, and there is great care in establishing each of the one act settings.

What does the end of the year bring, but a reflection of our destiny? “HoliDaze” is a wonderful mirror, an image back of some simple truths to interact with behind the glitz and sparkle of holiday facades. Give yourself a merry little experience.

Step Up Productions presents “HoliDaze” at Chicago Dramatists Theater, 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, through December 21st, 2014 – Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. Featuring six one act plays – “Lunch Box Love” by Steven Simonic, “Christmas Armaments” by Dana Lynn Formby, “Perfect Space” by Joshue Rollins, “Christmas at the Staples Center” by Aline Lathrop, “Gift Horse Grill” by Kristiana Rae Colón, and “A Couple of Nobodies” by Steven Peterson. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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