Many veterans of the Chicago fringe theater develop a certain weariness once they have been in the artistic trenches for a few years. There seem to be never enough resources to do a project well. A collection of bad reviews can bring sudden disaster at the box office. And it becomes more and more of a struggle just to keep the theater space going.
Consider the words of Guy Van Swearingen, the chief artistic force behind A Red Orchid Theatre, which this weekend opens a production of Eugene Ionesco's "The Killer."
That aside, A Red Orchid has plenty of positives going for it. It's the only storefront-style theater in the hot Old Town area, just a stone's throw from a multitude of liberal-thinking folks with plenty of disposable income. The troupe -- which previously produced both "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" and " 'Tis Pity She's a Whore" -- has an enviable reputation for artistic quality and has managed to attract some intense actors in recent years, such as the remarkable Michael Shannon. One invariably finds better design work at A Red Orchid than at almost any other Chicago theater of its size and, usually, the coolest posters in town.