All Rise at Walkabout Theater Company | Theater review
Staged in various parts of a Lincoln Square church, Walkabout’s anthology considers sacred spaces.
Walkabout’s latest site-specific work is an anthology of three short pieces set throughout Lincoln Square’s Luther Memorial Church. They’re tied together by a grizzled maintenance man (Errol McLendon) who serves as our guide around the playing areas while telling us his own sorrowful story. His monologue is broken up by the three more self-contained playlets, and writer Martyna Majok smartly uses that interstitial format to parcel out details about the man’s past and his salvation.
In the ensemble-devised Diets Are a Girl’s Best Friend, 16 women share their “highlights and lowlights” at the weekly meeting of a diet support group; their occasionally surreal anecdotes are amusing and moving. We’re escorted into the sanctuary’s choir loft for Thine, in which playwright Matthew George juxtaposes the fitful morning after of a hookup against a church service focusing on hope—and delightfully featuring pop songs by the likes of Beyoncé and fun. performed as pipe-organ hymns. I Begin, a wordless physical performance we view from the front of the sanctuary, makes interesting visual use of the church’s pews, yet its depiction of a cultlike group through the eyes of a new member is intellectually impenetrable. The evening provides intriguing ideas of the sacred, even if one wishes it made more immersive use of its environment.