Right or wrong, many put off family time until summer. Just as the weather gets warmer, we pack up the kids and jack up the credit cards in order to go somewhere else. Filament Theatre Ensemble serves up a family treat that warms up the cheeks of everyone from your fourth grader to blousy Aunt Millicent and keeps your coins in your pocket too.
Playwright Jessica Wright Buha’s sketch-comedy/improv/exercise romp has the world-famous Sherlock Holmes and his pal Watson scouring Portage Park to find a stolen box with a star on its top. The show begins with the audience playing the part of the neighborhood crowd, the “Portage Park Irregulars,” attending a city council meeting with four Filament actors portraying board members seated at a table giving out awards. When the audience is called up for a photo op, the box is stolen. Since the board members were behind the crowd and the box was sitting on their table, they are the only people who could have perpetrated the theft. The Irregulars fan out to investigate, venturing into area bookstores, churches, children’s playgrounds and more as the clues pile up.
To insure that all the Irregulars get maximum time with the sleuths, Holmes and Watson are instantly cloned by a mysterious invention. Red, Blue, and Green detectives, created in the same guise as their originals, lead the Irregulars into primary color groupings. Off the troupes tramp—or bicycle if they choose—to solve the case.
Situations that inspire childhood giggles are melded with historical sleuthing (be sure to bring your instrument of Internet-connection) and community building. You might have time to grab a caramel latte, purchase that magazine you’ve been hoping to find or investigate a new play space for your family’s own kid adventure all while you ponder the price of urban renewal.
In true crime-solving fashion, all the groups assemble afterward in the theater’s lobby. Sherlock asks the questions, Watson makes charts on Filament’s chalkboard wall, and soon enough everyone knows who swiped that box and why. But wait! The thief is IN the theater right now! Can the Portage Park Irregulars apprehend the wrongdoers and save the neighborhood in time?
The actors were committed, the weather near-perfect and Portage Park looked as clean as a policeman’s whistle. Grab the kids and go! (Aaron Hunt)
Filament Theatre, 4041 North Milwaukee, (773)270-1660, filamenttheatre.org, $24. Through July 23.