Unlike—or I might say, a far cry from—Court's previous production of Agamemnon, after which only three audience members stood, Satchmo roused its audience to a standing ovation, which has become de rigeur in Chicago for every sort of theatrical mediocrity. "People like plays which acknowledge the audience to be on the right side of social conflict," she said.
Thinking of that last night, after seeing Posh up north at Steep Theatre, I decided her criticism to be not without purchase. It is the reason why Agamemnon did not induce a post-presentation standing euphoria: not a soul in the auditorium was left unscathed, Agamemnon implicated all of humanity. Satchmo left people comfortably sitting on the right side of the issue of racism.
Posh was directed by Chicago's Jonathan Berry, one of the best talents we have working in the city. Its execution was flawless. The playwright, Laura Wade, is new to me. "Perhaps she will be the new Caryl Churchill," my companion said, urging delight by mentioning my favorite living playwright—though what commonality they may have besides being British and female would be hard to say, nor (obviously) is it something to be sought. Contrary to a recent derogatory remark I made about a local Chicago hack, when a masterful director controls the staging, it is easier to see through to the structure of the play. Technically, Posh was flawless.
The only possible flaw one might point to in the play was thematic: a gathering of phenomenally wealthy spoiled rich boys (or young men, as it were), left the moral dilemmas drawn pretty much without nuance. It was, however, an excellent production, and certainly several cuts above what the effete cultural snobs were getting with Satchmo.