Chicago Theater Review: GHOST BIKE (Buzz22 Chicago)

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by Samantha Nelson on March 19, 2014

in Theater-Chicago

AS YOU BIKE IT

Growing up and accepting change and loss are very personal processes. Buzz22, whose mission is to stage “stories to explore the coming of age,” has been following the grand tradition of Star Wars and Harry Potter by using epic tales to frame the struggle to forge your own identity and come to terms with your past.

Aurora Adachi-Winter as Ora embarks on an important  journey in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional World Premiere of Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin,  directed by Company Member Sara Sawicki.

Right on the heels of their excellent run of the Dungeons & Dragons-themed She Kills Monsters, Buzz22’s world premiere production of Laura Jacqmin’s Ghost Bike has proved that the young theater company is growing up into something extremely impressive.

Lea Pascal as the Ferrywoman navigates the River Styx  with a ghostly ensemble in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional World Premiere of Ghost Bike by  Laura Jacqmin, directed by Company Member Sara Sawicki.

A retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Ghost Bike follows Ora’s (Aurora Adachi-Winter) journey through the underworld beneath Chicago as she quests to bring back her best friend Eddie (Ricky Staffieri), who was hit by a car while riding his bike. Her trials include bypassing hipsters recounting their deaths while sipping the waters of Lethe, tricking the three-headed dog Cerberus–here portrayed as a tough extreme biker dude accompanied by two roller derby girls–and bartering everything she values for a chance to continue towards her goal.

Underworld creatures portrayed by Thea Lux and Lea  Pascal tease Ora (Back), played by Aurora Adachi-Winter in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional  World Premiere of Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin, directed by Company Member Sara  Sawicki.

Sara Sawicki keeps the 90-minute show in constant motion. There are cyclists zipping through the aisles and around the house on John Wilson’s modular set, which¬†provides ramps for the bikes to coast above us; there are also poles which are used for pedaling in place–showing movement without the distraction or challenge of riding in circles. Composer Matt Deitchman’s score offers the perfect mix of melancholy and menace depending on what Ora is facing physically and emotionally.

Aurora Adachi-Winter as Ora fights to save her bike  from a hoard of angry ghosts played by (L to R) Thea Lux, Lea Pascal, Ben Hertel, Artistic  Associate Alex Tey, and Quincey Krull in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional World Premiere of  Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin, directed by Company Member Sara Sawicki.

Much like She Kills Monsters, Ghost Bike is an acting showcase for women, and Adachi-Winter projects her struggles with growing up by being alternately tough and scared and vulnerable. She’s accompanied by an excellent ensemble, who spend the show taking on many roles. Ben Hertel is particularly delightful as a disturbingly cheerful psychiatrist, especially when he’s pulling out red flags cleverly hidden within Izumi Inaba’s costumes and Wilson’s set.

Ghosts played by Ben Hertel, Thea Lux, Lea Pascal,  Artistic Associate Alex Tey, and Quincey Krull scoff at the new arrival in Buzz22 Chicago's  Professional World Premiere of Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin, directed by Company Member  Sara Sawicki.

Margaret Cook brightens the stage as a flirty, scooter-riding Persephone, banishing the incredibly macabre Datsue-Ba (Lea Pascal), who seems to be channeling the creepiest monster of Japanese horror films for her movements. Scot West also stands out whether he’s putting ideas in Ora’s head as a fellow biker, riding a stack of pink girl’s bikes to welcome her to the underworld, or mocking her plight as the imposing King Yama.

Scot West as Satyr and Aurora Adachi-Winter as Ora  wait together in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional World Premiere of Ghost Bike by Laura  Jacqmin, directed by Company Member Sara Sawicki.

Ora is willing to face the lord of the underworld himself to avoid having to deal with her grief and the sad fact that her idyllic childhood spent riding through every corner of the city is over. Before Eddie dies, the two fight about Ora’s plans to go to school out of state, and while the separation they have to deal with is far more dramatic, this is a play that will ring true for anyone who’s ever have to struggle with leaving a friend behind in order to move forward.

Aurora Adachi-Winter as Ora and Ricky Staffieri as  Eddie ride along the streets of Chicago in Buzz22 Chicago's Professional World Premiere of  Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin, directed by Company Member Sara Sawicki.

photos by Justin Barbin

Ghost Bike
Buzz22 Chicago
Greenhouse Theater Center’s Upstairs Mainstage
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
scheduled to end on April 6, 2014
for tickets, call 773.404.7336 or www.greenhousetheater.org

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit TheatreinChicago.com

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