Theatre on the Hill takes on ‘Ruling Class’
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media April 11, 2013 10:18AM
Lorrisa Julianus of Bolingbrook stars in "The Ruling Class." | Courtesy of Theatre on the Hill
‘The Ruling Class’
♦ April 12-28
♦ The Bolingbrook Performing Arts Center, 375 W. Briarcliff
♦ Tickets, $15
♦ (630) 908-2538
Updated: April 11, 2013 12:57PM
Bolingbrook’s Theatre on the Hill ushers in the spring with a witty dark comedy that serves as a class commentary and social criticism.
“The Ruling Class,” by Peter Barnes, will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays April 12 to 28 at its indoor theater in Bolingbrook Town Center. It is produced and directed by Michael Fudala.
“The Ruling Class,” which was made into a 1972 film starring Peter O’Toole, has clever dialogue, musical numbers, serial killers, madrigals and a burlesque striptease; along with opera and aristocracy, romance and insanity, jealousy and drama and theology and more, Fudala said.
“It reflects the mood of the time — it was at the height of the counter culture when everyone was questioning everything,” he said. “Peter O’Toole called it a grand comedy with tragic relief.”
It satirizes the English upper crust in all of its greed and excesses in “a wonderful manner,” he said.
The 13th Earl of Gurney has passed away in a remarkably unsavory manner, and his son has to come and take over the estate. Unfortunately, he thinks he’s God. In the first part of the play, he represents goodness and has a creed of love. He doesn’t fit in to the upper crust.
The remaining family is trying to get him committed so they can take over the estate.
“He does get cured by the end of the first act, but not quite in the manner they think,” he said. “They think he’s cured because he is becoming more like them when in fact he’s becoming crazier. It’s quite fun to watch where it goes from there.
“It goes between very serious and laugh-out-loud funny,” he said. “The actors are having a lot of fun with it. There isn’t a boring moment in it.”
It’s not a musical but there is music and some dancing, he said.
“This one was so perfectly written, I didn’t want to change anything,” he said.
One rather large change he did make was adding the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer to God” as an a cappella number.
“The concept of that song fits very closely with the main character, Jack,” he said. “And done in madrigal form, totally a cappella, it’s wonderful. I would say come see the show just for that number.”
“The Ruling Class” is a play that isn’t done very much, he said. But the subject matter appealed to him, plus the theater had such success with Monty Python last fall.
“So I was thinking maybe Bolingbrook and the surrounding areas were ready for more British humor,” he said.
He hopes that audiences will be entertained and to have their eyes opened a little bit, he said.
“Other people’s intents aren’t always what you expect them to be,” he said. “(Barnes) had much more of an ax to grind than I do. But we treat people of different socio-economic status different ways, even though we say we don’t. What is taken as insanity in a common worker may be looked upon as an eccentricity in someone from government, and it’s even more so over there. British are so much more reserved than we are too; it really gets blown out of proportion even more.”