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Last Minute Plans: Closing This Weekend

By Julienne Bilker in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 17, 2010 9:00PM

cast of Twelve Angry Men, photo courtesy Raven Theatre
This week's highlights of stuff we haven't covered becauseJuliennehascollapsedinapileofplaybills includes one show we saw, one we wish we'd seen in its place, and one that's only running this weekend. In that order:

A True History Of The Johnstown Flood - Goodman Theatre - closing tomorrow
We actually caught this show a few weeks ago, but to be totally honest, it was so boring we didn't want to dedicate an entire post to it. Besides, we wanted to make sure you heard about The Cabinet (which closes next weekend) and The Illusion (which is closed) first. A True History Of The Johnstown Flood, a new play by Rebecca Gilman, is a fictional account of a real 1889 event in which a poor industrial town was completely wiped out by (surprise) a flood. The dramatic angle is that the flood was the result of a shoddily-constructed dam meant to contain a man-made lake belonging to a shmancy country club - that part is true. In Gilman's version, an old-school family acting troupe happened to be performing at the country club, and was caught in the deluge on their way out of town - that part isn't. As Goodman Artistic Director (and director of Johnstown Flood) Robert Falls notes in the program, the resulting catastrophe is "a metaphor for class inequality in America: out of the hubristic dreams of the wealthy comes a disaster that disproportionately affects the poor." Actually, it's not a bad premise. But for a show derived from such an inherently richly dramatic event, it lacks punch. The script's focus is blurry, and the experience feels a bit schitzophrenic. Add about 3000 tons of unnecessary - though occasionally beautiful - scenery, and it's a clunky mess that unfolds at a glacial pace.

Twelve Angry Men - Raven Theatre - closing tonight
Although we're not huge fans of this classic jury room drama, we've heard Raven's production is well done. Time Out has great things to say about the acting, and calls the production "A vibrant rendition of a great play."

El Nogalar - Teatro Vista in conjunction with Millenium Park - closing tonight
The last show of Millenium Park's new theater lab series ("In The Works"), El Nogalar is set in 2011 northern Mexico, and loosely based on Chekov's The Cherry Orchard. The production, written by Tanya Saracho and directed by Cecilie D. Keenan, "addresses the issues of class, entitlement and the return of Mexican immigrant families who once fled their country." New play on an outdoor stage on a brisk evening? Yes please.