Wow! When you go to a new professional theater company’s first production you don’t know what to expect in staging, directing and acting. Certainly there’s no expectation that the show would be among the few productions seen over the years where everything works to perfection. But that is exactly what occurred in Honest Theatre’s opening weekend of “Spike Heels” at the Mussetter-Strubel Theater on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.
An intelligent play by award-winning playwright, novelist, TV writer Theresa Rebeck, "Spike Heels" addresses male control and female self-determination issues through not so-rosy Pygmalion glasses. First put on in 1990, its messages are still relevant. However, they work best when argued well by truly believable characters.
In the Honest Theatre production, running now through June 15, 2014, Whitney Rappan is a brilliant Georgie, a street-smarts girl who lives in a Boston apartment above Andrew, a university professor (hmm, Henry Higgins) perfectly played to the last nuance by Britain Willcock.
Complicating the mix is Boston criminal attorney Edward, delightfully portrayed by Zachary Bortot as a self-aware "lothario" who has no trouble defending the city’s criminal element, and Lydia, Andrew's fiancée from a Back Bay/Beacon-Hill family played with just the right amount of friendly reserve by Kelly Helgeson.
Directed by Kelly Levander, the action superbly moves from confrontation to wishful thinking to its interesting conclusion. The only regret here is that due to actors’ other projects, “Spike Heels” performances are a mere two weeks, June 6-8 and 12-15.
Details: “Spike Heels” is at Northwestern University’s Mussetter-Strubel Theater, 1949 Campus Dr., Evanston, Il 60208. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances are 8 p.m., Sundays are 2 p.m. Tickets: Honest Theatre hopes to make quality shows easily accessible so it does “pay-what-you-can” and open-seating. For more information visit Honest Theatre.