Edgewater is home to over twenty local theater groups, each of which produces the kind of theater that shows why Chicago has one of the liveliest theater scenes in the United States. With an emphasis on storefront theater, Edgewater’s theatre district allows audiences to experience ground-breaking theater in intimate settings. Taking in a show and ‘making a night of it’ with dinner and drinks helps boost Edgewater’s economic activity by up to $1.2 million in local restaurant, bar and service revenue. On Saturday, we made an afternoon of it and went along to Intrinsic Theater’s Now or Later.
In a hotel room on election night, the president-elect’s son John Jr. has one eye on the incoming results and another on the blogosphere where pictures are circulating of him dressed as the Prophet Muhammad at a college party. Arguing that his actions were a defense of free speech he refuses to issue a statement of apology and what ensues is a verbal showdown between John Jr.’s book-learned ideology and political compromise as espoused by president-elect John Sr. and his advisors. The stand-out performance comes from the lead, Joe Sharkey whose John Jr. is at once honest, earnest, frustrating, narcissistic, enormously privileged and vulnerable. The play is succinct and runs seventy minutes, without an intermission. It is set in a generic and sparse hotel room and in the intimacy of the The Edge Off Broadway’s space, it’s easy to feel like we’re in the room with the characters. From a 2019 perspective the political stakes are not high, but this works to the play’s advantage. It allows audience members to engage with competing perspectives and the personal histories informing those perspectives, as well as examining the merits of flexibility and/or compromise. At a time when political opinion is so polarized and uncompromising, Intrinsic Theater’s production of Now or Later could hardly be timelier.