DAY BY DAY, we make new memories and write our stories as we move from one place to another. Among the many places where people come and go, hotels are where transitions occur the most. Some people may be on their way out after a nice rest and others may be coming in to make new memories. Yet because of the hotel cleaning services and facilities, we never get to hear the story of each and every person. When we enter the newly checked-in rooms, we are welcomed with clean sheeted beds, shiny bathrooms, and brand new furnishings. However, we remain unaware of who stayed in the very same room or what might have happened in that exact location few hours, few days, or even a few years back. If we were granted the chance to behold everything that transpired, how would it feel?
After a great success in 2015 and 2016, James Wilkes’s The Capone Trilogy, is back. The Capone Trilogy is a 210-minute trilogy containing three different stories: Loki, Lucifer, and Vindichi. Each play is categorized as a comedy, suspense, and a hard-boiled genre. Loki, a play inspired by Norse mythology, revolves around the protagonist, Lola Keen. Her involvement in the Chicago’s dark underworld comes back to haunt her on the very eve of her wedding to a blundering sugar daddy. The ludicrous story continues as Lola takes a sip from a mystifying bottle… Lucifer is a hypnotic remaking of the biblical antagonist. Vindichi, influenced by the Revenger’s Tragedy, deals with Vindichi planning his revenge for his dead wife in Lexington Hotel. Situated in Chicago, Lexington Hotel’s small old room hosts three events in three separate time periods: 1924, 1934, and 1943.
If you’re unsure on choosing which act to watch, leave it up to fate and see what gets played. Each story has its own color and plot; hence, separately watching the acts will leave you entertained. However, if you don’t mind financially and mentally indulging in the whole 210-minute program, I recommend staying and seeing how each storyline unfolds.
It’s important to take note that The Capone Trilogy is a NC-19 act, as it as a several provocative and violent scenes. You might even find yourself wincing and twitching in your seat. Yet beyond these minute obstacles, watching the whole trilogy will enrich the theater experience as overlapping quotes, symbols, and motifs intertwine as one.
The Capone Trilogy is special in that both the entrance and stage is situated uniquely. Unlike other theaters, a bellboy guards the main door to collect entrance tickets. Yet instead of entering the stage room, you find yourself inside the Lexington Hotel lobby. In contrary to the bright entrance, the dark hallway is filled with an aura of tension and the smell of vengeance. As you walk around the dark space, you finally make your way into the main stage, room number 661. Stepping inside the hotel room, you undeniably sense the sinister and aphotic air waiting ahead where nobody awaits to welcome you in. As if the hotel room has been directly moved, the room looks exactly like a hotel room from the 20’s, presented with a sheeted bed, a busy Chicago city outside the window, worn-out closet, and a small bathroom.
The Invisible Witness
When the lights begin to dim, each member of the audience becomes a witness to the play. The stage is distinctively located in the middle of the room for an intensified sense of realism. The observers are seated amphitheatrically on both sides, as if they are not present in the hotel room. People become constantly absorbed into the story as performers continue to perform in a natural and graceful manner. They look out in midair, meet eyes with the audience, and continue with their act as if no one is watching. During violent scenes, the audience can feel the weight and depth of their heavy breathing. The intimacy between spectators and actors may be the reason behind why The Capone Trilogy was not made into a movie. Despite its worldwide success, there is more that the audience can gain from experiencing the breathtaking atmosphere and arresting pressure firsthand, rather than watching the scenes on the screen. The little details that the actors place in their motions and facial expressions make a big difference to the audience.
Because the play unfolds with a limited number of actors, it does not deliver numerous lines and settings. Instead, the viewers understand the characters’ innermost thoughts through recorded audios. This effect transforms the audience into true spectators. The connections between the rhetorical lines and the characters’ thoughts elucidate observers to better understand The Capone Trilogy. Essentially, the incisive dialogues build up suspense all in the right places.
Unfortunately, none of the plays have a happy ending. There is not one person who steps out of the room smiling or joking with their friends. Instead, everyone seems puzzled and burdened. The doors open and people exit questioning what is right and wrong with the world we live in today. In reality, people are constantly fighting to live happy lives. But in the end, does this non-stop battle for happiness ultimately lead to the dream that we strive and toil for? What is life and why do we live for it? Are we any different from the characters in the play who strive for success and revenge?
Once you step into the world of The Capone Trilogy, there’s no turning back. The startling themes and essential motifs of one play slowly linger around and eventually haunt you to come back for the rest. In the end, we may find ourselves booking another ticket into the Lexington Hotel, room number 661 very soon.
Date: March 20, 2018 ~ June 17, 2018
Place: Hongik University Daehak-ro Art Center (26, Ihwajang-gil, Jongno-fu, Seoul)
Quote 1: “Bad things always take place in the same location” – 1943
Quote 2: “This show’s happy ending is mine. I’ll send you to hell” - 1943
Quote 3: “One whisper. Make them imagine it all” – 1934
Quote 4: “Lola, wake up. You killed someone” – 1932