By Beau O'Reilly + William Shakespeare
March 12 – April 10, 2011
Fridays & Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
3502 North Elston Avenue
$15 or pay what you can at the door • $12 in advance online
Reserve online at
or call (773) 508-0666
Shakespeare gets spoken and chickens do the chasing in this weird, wild mélange of vivacious voices and tricky transgressions.
Beau O'Reilly collaborates with the British playwright William Shakespeare on a tragic-comic tale of curiosity and betrayal in which minds are altered by "The Mighty Mind Blow", delusion leads to murder and a film-noir-like quest for revenge, with stops along the way for the perfect map and a new view of love.
Featuring Kelly Anchors, Jayita Bhattacharya, Brian Collins, Courtney Kearney, Steve Lehman, Beau O'Reilly, Matt Rieger, and Jordan StaceyDirected by Beau O'Reilly • Set design by Joseph Riley • Costumes by Diane HammIndustry Night! Mon April 4 at 7 p.m.Press
Heaven only knows what to make of The Buzz That Is the Buzz—or why it all hangs together as well as it does. Is it the fun of riffing on bad guys, whether they're the most treacherous of villains, like Shakespeare's' Richard the Third, or the old-style street thugs with a lingo all their own? Is it the play's oddball mix of slackers/hipsters with down-and-out private eyes and excessively specialized gay shopkeepers? Curious Theatre Branch has brought a lot of curious avant garde things to light but Beau O'Reilly's world premiere play gives audiences a hallucinogenic trip where every odd move and play on words fits just right and gels into a funky seamless whole. Then again—maybe it's those damn chickens, freaky harbingers of guilt and doom and just plain freakiness. Idiot chickens!
Based on a play that was never written, a collaboration between O'Reilly and William Shakespeare called The Doom In the Bud, The Buzz That Is the Buzz pursues the aftermath of the evil deeds of Lord Agit (Jayita Bhattacharya), which are twice performed by the cast in shadow pantomime form. O'Reilly's utilizes movement and shadow theater not only to underscore the work's random, dreamlike theatricality but also to distance the audience from the characters they are seeing. Lord Agit quotes lines from Richard the Third with self-conscious, almost cartoon-style villainy. But Bhattacharya's portrayal cannot be received any more heavily than Matt Rieger's interpretation of Con, a gangster and hit man with a sense of beat poetry about everything he observes. Con's accompanied by his muscle, Randy (played with tight-jawed hilarity by Beau O'Reilly), whose obsessive pre-occupation with safety forms its own safety hazard.
Both old school Chicago gangsters are followed by Benny Benjamin (Brian Collins), a cop turned private detective, whose face was burned in a fire set by Con after he'd dispatched two lives on Lord Agit's commission. Benny follows the thugs through their various wanderings, as they make contact with people far outside their world—therapists, gay shopkeepers and hip youngsters taking their first crack at selling a drug called "the mighty mind blow." It turns out that Lord Agit has her origins in the mighty mind blow and that the whole of the world of the play just might have its origins there, too.
More than anything else, the work is a kaleidoscopic interplay of words and movement and images—and somehow, in some mysterious part of the medulla oblongata, it all comes together brilliantly. Evil and its consequences and regret meet with curiosity, dialogue and a bit of healing power to connect. Most of O'Reilly's characters are haunted; those damn chickens especially haunt Lord Agit, but the mad whirlwind of friends and strangers strangely juxtaposed with each other goes on. I suppose just the fact that they're talking to each other at all is a celebration of a more hopeful world than the one we've usually got.—Chicago Theater Blog
There's a lot going on in O'Reilly's Buzz (co-credited to some guy named Shakespeare): references to Richard III and Godot, dancing chickens, psych-ward therapy sessions, drug deals, white girls rapping Shakespearean plotlines, sapphic seduction, hit men, murder. O'Reilly's ambitious attempt to fuse so many elements results in an uneven collage; the pieces fail to cohere into a meaningful whole.
Most successful are the two-person scenes that showcase intertwined characters: a bullied drug dealer who peddles "the mighty mind blow," a nurse, a psychiatrist, the owner of an esoteric map store and a private detective with a disfigured face. Floating in and out of this melange is Lord Agit (Jayita Bhattacharya, in a gothic and untethered performance), accompanied by anthropomorphic chickens.
If this sounds adolescent, well, it is—though that may be O'Reilly's point. While these adventures offer occasional moments of insight, they can also feel gratuitous or underdeveloped (as in one character's "straight guy" fascination with homosexuality). One of the more interesting characters here is Benny Benjamin (Brian Collins), a burn victim who offers a compelling exploration of what it's like to be viewed as the Other: a grotesque monster.
So what is "the buzz"? O'Reilly suggests it may have something to do with the past, with loss, with our memory of transformative love--all that constitutes a self. As Benjamin puts it to his therapist: "I don't want to move on. I want to remember."—Time Out
Con and Randy suffer a visit to rehab.
Clarissa and Francis partake of TheMightyMindblow.
Curious Theatre Branch is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported in part by grants from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Alphawood Foundation. Contact: (773) 492-1287 or curioustheatre [at] gmail [dot] com