I don’t think that I’ve seen a play as amusing, witty, clever, intelligent, engaging, moving and intense as New Leaf Theatre’s “The Man Who Was Thursday.” Bilal Dardai’s adaptation of G.K. Chesterton’s novel follows poet-turned-detective Gabriel Syme (the terrific Dan Granata), who infiltrates a group of anarchists that all have the titles of days of the week and are led by the enigmatic Sunday (Sean Patrick Fawcett). However, no one and nothing is what it seems in this play.
I have not read Chesterton’s novel, which is apparently subtitled “A Nightmare,” but I will say that Dardai’s script is filled with clever and well-written lines and terrific points about anarchy without coming off as a lecture. The script, along with Jessica Hutchinson’s direction, allows for the show to walk a fine line between a farce and a thriller, which it does a superb job of doing.
The inventive use of the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, New Leaf Theatre’s home, also has the audience starting off in a room with a bench in it. After being instructed to move into the main performance space, the audience sits on benches, that are also moved around later in the first act in order for the audience to face the stage where the Supreme Anarchists Council meets. The show is has elements that are not time period appropriate, such as the fact that the actors wear Converse Chuck Taylor’s that match their ties or the synthetic music that blares at various points, but in the bizarre world that the play occurs in, these aspects are not at all confusing and the music actually is very appropriate for the moments in which it is used.
The entire cast does a terrific job, especially since many of the actors have to use multiple accents during the course of the show. Granata gives the best performance of the evening with a restrained but emotional performance. My only problem with this production is that Mike Mikula, who plays Lucien Gregory, had an accent that wavered and I don’t that it was supposed to. However, this is a very minor problem since that was only for a small fraction of the play and the rest of the play and the acting is phenomenal.
So, go and see “The Man Who Was Thursday” before it closes on November 21. Tickets are also only $18, $12 for seniors and students, which makes it a pretty good deal to go see it.