Be prepared to be surprised at Writers’ Theatre presentation of Graham Greene’s 1969 novel, “Travels With My Aunt‚” on its little stage at the back of Books on Vernon in Glencoe.
The show is bold and imaginative and even has an unexpected, touching denouement.
Four men, identical in Magritte-like bowlers, pinstripe suits, vests and matching ties take about two-dozen parts. So the eccentric Aunt Augusta, who draws her nephew Henry, a quiet retired banker, into her adventurous international life, has many faces.
The role is mainly taken by Sean Fortunato, in a humorous, petulant and often tender portrayal of the 75-year old woman who is still up for the game of life. But Fortunato is occasionally Henry, as are LaShawn Banks and John Hoogenakker. Hoogenakker also takes the part of Toolie, a young girl on the Orient Express, as well as Toolie’s father, a CIA agent in South America. Banks has major roles as Augusta’s Jamaican boyfriend and her long lost love Mr. Visconti, while Jeremy Sher serves as the sound-effects guy and, yes, Henry.
The script is hilarious and despite the numerous character switches the show is not confusing. This amazing 1989 adaptation of Greene’s novel by British playwright Giles Havergal is perfectly realized under the guidance of director Stuart Carden.
One caution—don’t take your eyes off the performers. They communicate as much with their posture and movements as with their words. See the show, read the novel and tell your friends. There just may not be anything like this superb production on any stage in Chicagoland.
“Travels With My Aunt” runs at 664 Vernon through April 3. Call 847-242-6000 or visit writerstheatre.org.