Chicago Reviews

“33 to Nothing”


Review by Bradley Laas; sorry no photos due to technical issues

We are all familiar with the stories behind the iconic Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac. The band, centered around two couples, was turned on its head when Bassist John McVie and keyboard player/vocalist Christine McVie called it quits on their 8-year marriage. Singer Stevie Nicks and on-again-off-again guitarist/vocalist boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham were on a particularly rough ‘off’ patch of their relationship. The band was shaken to its core. The warring couples would not talk socially. The only thing discussed was the music. Somehow, through this chaos, this band was able to create arguably one of the best albums ever written. They put their heartbreak and anger into 10 beautifully complex songs.

33 to Nothing follows one queer band’s rehearsal as they attempt to pull a Fleetwood Mac. Lead singer Gray (Aaron Holland) and Guitarist Bri (Steve Haggard) have just ended a relationship. Guitarist Tyler (Amanda Raquel Martinez) and bassist Alex (Annie Prichard) are a newly married lesbian couple grappling with balancing the band and their day jobs. Bri and Alex have grown apart as friends. Gray and Tyler are trying to find the joy they once had in their friendship. The entire band attempts to cope with Gray’s obsessive drinking, while genderfluid drummer Barry (Jeff Kurysz) seems to be just along for the ride.

The band has more against them than their messy, intertwined personal lives that keep them from becoming the queer Fleetwood Mac. The median age of the band is 33.  Some are tired of being struggling artists. All are tired of Gray’s manipulative, childlike behavior. Not to mention certain members of the band are already balding. The question posed throughout the entire show is: can this band make it despite so much against it?

The performance of the show started out hollow. When the actors weren’t playing the songs, the lines seemed stiff and, well, like they were reciting lines. As the show went on and the alternative rock kept blaring, the acting came to par with the music. The music was decent, although, by no stretch of the imagination, close to Fleetwood Mac. However, the lines of reality began to blur as the actors found their characters through the music. Gray has a voice like no other; Berry played the drums like a rock god; you even heard some sick bass playing by Alex.

The staging was interesting, though not very effective. We were virtually sitting on stage with the band. This would have been cool but it made the playing space so small that the actors would have tripped over each other if they moved around. So they did not move around much. Which meant I spent 90 minutes looking at the same guy’s behind. The small venue also made the rock music especially loud. The theatre provided ear plugs which I had to use for most of the performance. But I can look past all of this because of the charisma of the performers.

There is one thing I cannot look past: the character of Berry played no important part in the plot. They were there to provide comedic relief. I have an issue with making the gender-non binary character referred to by both sets of pronouns the comic relief. At times it felt like the script was asking us to look at them and point and laugh. It suggested, at least to me, that the only thing a gender nonconforming person is good for is to play the clown. That’s both problematic and outdated.

Overall the shows worth a watch even if you do have to fight for parking in Old Town. It is not perfect but it does make for an entertaining night of theater. And hey, at least the queer community is getting some sort of representation.

You can catch 33 to Nothing at A Red Orchid Theatre through May 27th. Get your tickets at

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