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  Design for Living at Rivendell Theatre

Design for Living

Rivendell Theatre
5775 N. Ridge Avenue Chicago

Noel Coward, truly the master of sophisticated 20th-century English comedy, was censured in 1933 for this hilarious and urbane look at love, friendship and the joys and perils of fame. Filled with Coward's trademark sparkling wit, Design for Living follows three glamorous bohemians -- Gila, Leo and Otto -- as they fall in and out of love with each other. Restlessly on the move from Paris to London to New York, the three both pursue and repel each other in an increasingly maddening love triangle. This Pride Films & Play production plays in Chicago at Rivendell Theater.

Thru - Nov 22, 2015

Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:30pm

Price: $22-$27

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-334-7728

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

  Design for Living Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...The proceedings pick up steam before intermission, and the second act is loaded with subtle but funny comic bits and strong supporting turns from the other spectators in the lives of the gilded and unconventional threesome - including Amber Snyder as dowdy and put-upon maid, Miss Hodge, and Nora Lise Ulrey and Mike Newquist as arriviste Americans at a party, thoroughly at sea when Otto and Leo arrive in America, fresh from their own romantic adventures abroad and bent on rescuing Gilda from dullsome married respectability. I've seen sharper takes on this play, but it comes around rarely enough that Coward fans might want to give it a shot."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Derek Bertelsen’s high-spirited staging for Pride Films and Plays clears up some doubt on that score: Kevin Webb’s Leo and Matthew Gall’s Otto seem far more into one another than either is interested in Carmen Molina’s Gilda. The boys' discovery of this fact—revisionist though it may be—is fun to watch, especially given both actors' flair for articulate hysteria. Molina, however, often looks left out, which might be why she overcompensates with lots of smirking and goggling."
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Zac Thompson

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Creating an ambience of cosmopolitan chic as practiced in the cultural capitals of three glamorous countries, Kendra Kingsbury's clipped-consonant dialect instruction, G. Maxin IV's skylit scenic design, Kallie Noelle Rolison's ticklish score of vo-dee-o-do music and John Nasca's breathtaking period wardrobe ( right down to the neckties ) conjure fairy-tale magic within the confines of Rivendell's underheated storefront. Their reward-and ours-is a uniformly excellent ensemble of actors led by Kevin Webb, Carmen Molina and Matthew Gall ( with Edward Fraim as the jilted hub ), who invite us to laugh at the artifice of their personae while never ignoring the passion that engages our immediate affections."

Mary Shen Barnidge

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...This comedy by Noël Coward was controversial for implying its main characters are in a bisexual love triangle, and debuted on Broadway because censors in refused to allow it to run in Coward’s native England. Today, director Derek Bertelsen treats it as an exercise in art deco visuals, allowing scenic designer G. Maxin IV, costume designer John Nasca, and hair/make-up designer Brian Estep to fill Rivendell’s storefront with metallic geometric patterns and swirls to match Coward’s rhetorical intricacies. The story itself is amusing, and should please Coward fans as well as people curious about comedies from the inter-war period."
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Jacob Davis

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...It is clear that Bertelsen not only called upon his cast to embody the age, but also his designers as well. Sets (G. Max Maxin IV) and costumes (John Nasca) most notably create the world of the successful depression era artists who live a life of whimsy. The Art Deco motif that permeates every instant of the show glitters forth from every sharp angle and sparkles upon every sensuous curve."
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Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...Ultimately Design for Living is a valentine to Coward's close friends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and a bittersweet bit of aching nostalgia for a less-complicated time before the corruptions of fame. That it still lands with force as a defiant flag planted on the mountain of personal freedom is a testimony to The Master's uncanny knack for finding the universal in the personal. There's a moral as humane as it is self-centered for a yet more self-centered age-act as you must, and let others figure out how to live with it."

Clint May

  Design for Living Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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