Review Roundup: Block Street Theatre Company's FLAMINGO & DECATUR

Review Roundup:  Block Street Theatre Company's FLAMINGO & DECATURThe World Premiere of Todd Taylor's FLAMINGO & DECATUR opened January 10th and runs through February 18th. The play, presented by Block Street Theatre Company at Theater Wit, follows two friends who decide the best way to save money is to live in one of the Las Vegas houses left empty after the 2008 housing crash.

The play is directed by Kevin Christopher Fox, and features the talents of Stephanie Bignault, Drew Johnson, Jason M. Shipman and Nathaniel Stahlke.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times: In "Flamingo & Decatur," a most winning tragicomedy of Vegas manners, Todd Taylor (a former sports writer and poker pro turned playwright), homes in on all those generally unexamined aspects of the fabled city. His play is now receiving a sharply acted world-premiere production at Theater Wit courtesy of the Block St Theatre Co - a group of University of Arkansas graduates with MFAs in theater and extensive professional credits whose goal is to "build a bridge between Fayetteville and Chicago." And under the shrewd direction of Kevin Christopher Fox (a veteran Chicago-based actor-director), both the play, with its echoes of Sam Shepard's "True West," and the company, deserve a big welcome mat.

Lawrence Bomber, Stage and Cinema: A troupe from Fayetteville, Arkansas has come to Chicago's Theater Wit to showcase a new play about Las Vegas. That's the download on Flamingo & Decatur, a sporadically fascinating character study about low rollers in a mean town. At his best, playwright Todd Taylor-and director Kevin Christopher Fox-share with us their strange and sometimes sweet sympathy for four grifters, squatters, hustlers, and opportunists living mostly beyond their means and far from the Strip. Any plot in this sardonic two-act comedy is paltry to invisible. There's a ton of talk about golf (miniature and life-size) and gambling (online and in casinos). Too easily, it assumes our prior interest. Mainly, Taylor seems taken with the different ways these four copers bet their lives-and everything else.

Lisa Trifone, Third Coast Review: The play runs just over two hours, with intermission, and like an independent film that doesn't know when to kill its darlings and leave a few scenes on the cutting room floor, it could easily be half an hour shorter (especially the final scene that seems to go. on. forever...). Taylor's dialogue is plenty sharp, but Fox allows for just a hair too much space around the beats in the play's more poignant moments where a bit of pick-up would sell them better and give the audience a little more credit than they do.

Noel Schecter, Splash Magazines: Written by Todd Taylor and presented as a world premier by Block St Theatre Co, Flamingo & Decaturis at its best when exploring the very fine line between working or being worked by the system (and as anyone who has ever spent time in Vegas knows, sometimes the best we can really hope for is to break even). These moments, unfortunately, are too few and far between with much of the play's lengthy two hour plus running time appearing unfocused. There is also a serious problems with the central character as Jackson lacks both the necessary likability to be sympathetic or the snake like charm to be interesting. Two bright spots in the production are the wonderful set design by Joe Schermoly (which among other things involves an actual hot tub) and the stage presence of Stephanie Bignault. Making her Chicago debut, Bignault is absolutely masterful as Nicole, a vampire like poker player who prowls the late night scene in search of an edge. Her vulnerability and swagger is what stands out in this very uneven play.

Photo Courtesy of Block Street Theatre Co.


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From This Author Leah Windahl