A Red Orchid Theatre excels in productions of plays that are just this side of the absurd and the bizarre, or that sometimes even cross that border. And with the announcement of its 2016-2017 season, it appears the company has every intention of upholding this tradition, with productions of “The Room,” Harold Pinter’s menacing first play, as well as the Chicago premiere of the work of two high-profile contemporary playwrights.
In a prepared statement, Kirsten Fitzgerald, the company’s artistic director, noted: “ I have long-loved the plays of Harold Pinter, and though A Red Orchid has produced his work in the past, ‘The Room’ will be the first play of his in which I’ve performed. We also are over-the-moon to be producing two long-awaited Chicago premieres, and to develop relationships with playwrights Jennifer Haley and David Adjmi. As an ensemble we often state we are not interested in doing the same thing twice. With each of these plays we explore identity, but the methods could not be more different. I can’t wait to share them.”
The season lineup is as follows:
+ “THE ROOM,” (Sept. 29 – Nov. 13, 2016): Both brutal and darkly comic, Harold Pinter’s 1957 play, directed by Dado, and featuring ensemble members Kirsten Fitzgerald and Mierka Girten, focuses on a married couple – Rose, who chats up a storm, and prefers to remain in the “safety” of her apartment, and her husband, a trucker, who ventures out into the world. But Rose’s seemingly cozy sanctuary is continually being invaded – with visits from the landlord, a couple in search of their own space, and a stranger. And “it becomes increasingly unclear whether the menace comes from within or without.”
+ “THE NETHER,” (Jan. 26 – March 12, 2017): The Chicago premiere of Jennifer Haley’s play (winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize of 2011-2012), directed by Karen Kessler, and featuring ensemble members Guy Van Swearingen and Doug Vickers. Haley homes in on a young detective who uncovers a disturbing brand of entertainment “that triggers an interrogation into the darkest corners of the imagination and the most basic of human desires.” The play creates “a virtual wonderland that provides total sensory immersion – a beautiful escape that ultimately begs some very serious questions about responsibility, connectivity and love.”
+ “3C,” (April 20 – June 4, 2017): The Chicago premiere of David Adjmi’s play, directed by Shade Murray, and featuring ensemble members Jennifer Engstrom and Larry Grimm. Adjmi, perhaps best known for his time-warped play, “Marie Antoinette,” seen several seasons back at Steppenwolf, here taps into 70’s sitcoms and the political incorrectness of “jiggle television,” providing “a hilarious and horrifying look at identity and what lies beneath the perky veneer.” After Brad lands in L.A. to start a new life, he engages in a wild night of partying that finds him passed out in Connie and Linda’s kitchen, and the three strike a deal that raises the suspicions of the landlords. Complications spiral out of control, “taking the show from farce to something unexpected.”
A Red Orchid will continue its FLASHPASS program for the 2016-2017 season, with a number of new options added, and it has devised two new membership options as well. Both Flashpasses and memberships may be purchased at A Red Orchid’s box office at 1531 N. Wells. Subscriptions may also be purchased by calling (312) 943-8722, or visiting http://www.aredorchidtheatre.org. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date.