Theatre Oobleck presents “There is a Happiness that Morning is…
There is an absolutely stunning piece of theater happening in Chicago right now, and as it happens to deal with the poetry of William Blake, I figured this would be as good a place as any to talk about it.
My husband and I, both theater people frankly burned out and bored by much of the theater we’ve seen recently, went to see Theater Oobleck’s mounting of Mickle Maher’s “There is a Happiness that Morning Is..” as a delayed Valentine’s Day date. (I was in rehearsals for a play I’m directing/have directed on the actual V-Day.) I’d heard raves about the show, so I bought us tickets.
And it is, hands down, one of the best pieces of theater I’ve seen in my entire life. Now, I’ve been a theater nerd since elementary school, and I’m 30 now, so we’re talking hundreds of shows – maybe even a thousand. I lost count a decade or so ago.
This. Play. Is. Killer.
It’s a simple premise – two professors at a small liberal arts college who both teach the poems of William Blake have reported to their classes to teach, and also to make apologies/explanations for making love in the lawn on the campus, having been so stirred by the very poems they teach they simply could not contain themselves. Bernard (Colm O’Reilly) is inspired by the events of the previous night, while Elizabeth (Diana Slickman) has had a different experience. Over the course of 90 non-stop minutes, they bare it all and the result is breathtaking. The actors are marvelous, the simple set is perfect, and oh yeah.. it’s all in rhymed verse.
[Um, and it’s possible that Martha Bayne (She who gave the world “Soup and Bread”) did the lighting design? If this is so, it’s even more awesome. I’m still checking this out.]
See it if you can. Again, it blew my mind.