unfortunates

The UnfortunatesOn a cold foggy night, Mary Jane Kelly seeks after-hours refuge in the Ten Bells Pub. She’s behind in her rent, she’s lost her key, she’s alone, and it’s 1888 – a bad time to be poor and “unfortunate” on the streets of London, where one of history’s most notorious serial killers is at work.

When she discovers a lone stranger drinking in the closed pub, Mary sees an opportunity to turn her situation around, embarking on a desperate attempt to sell her story rather than herself.

Winner of the Gloria Ann Peter and Susan Glaspell playwriting awards, Aoise Stratford’s THE UNFORTUNATES is a rich and riveting exploration of an unforgettable moment in time, and a woman who deserves to be remembered for much more than her death.

The New York Times called it “haunting…engrossing” and TimeOut New York gave it 4 stars and said, “it achieves a rare combination of pathos and humor, breathing fresh life into women we might have otherwise think of only as long-dead prey.”
“THE ROUGH AND OCCASIONALLY TENDER TEXTURE OF THIS TIME AND PLACE COME TO LIFE. THIS WOMAN BECOMES MORE THAN A NAME ON A CRIME BLOTTER, TO BE AN ACTUAL, THREE-DIMENSIONAL PERSON WORTHY OF HER OWN STORY.”
~ CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“GAIL RASTORFER AS KELLY IS ENGAGING… SHE FLIRTS, CAJOLES, BARGAINS, AND RELIVES HER DESPERATE LIFE STORY, COMPLETE WITH MULTIPLE CHARACTERS AND ACCENTS.”
~ CHICAGO READER
“A TRULY MARVELOUS PERFORMANCE WHICH SPANS HILARIOUS SATIRE AND SOCIAL COMMENTARY TO THE DEEPEST PAIN AND SORROW, GAIL RASTORFER RESTORES A LIVING FACE TO SOMEONE WHO IS REMEMBERED ONLY FOR BEING A VICTIM.”
~ CHICAGO CRITIC
“GAIL RASTORFER IS MAGNIFICENT. SHE CAPTURES THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF A STRONG WOMAN, MAKING THIS CHARACTER HONEST, HUMANE, AND SOMEONE WE CARE ABOUT VERY MUCH.”
~ CHICAGO THEATRE REVIEW

Set in the infamous Ten Bells Pub in London’s Whitechapel district, our scenic design employs a simple but effective array of café tables, chairs, and a bar to define the playing space – which can be expanded or reduced as needed to accommodate almost any size performance area.

With one act, one actor, no costume changes, and a single, size-adjustable set, the staging of THE UNFORTUNATES makes it highly flexible to suit any space – from proscenium, black box, or thrust theaters, to open-plan event venues and presentation rooms.


Aoise Stratford-Playwright – Aoise Stratford’s work has had more than 100 productions around the country and overseas in Canada, Europe, England, Scotland, Australia and The Philippines. She is the recipient of several awards for her plays Somewhere in Between (Pinter Review Prize for Drama Silver Medal, Yukon Pacific Playwright Award), and The Unfortunates (Susan Glaspell Award, Gloria Anne Peter Award). Her short plays have also won her ‘best playwright’ awards at been produced at Lookingglass Theatre, City Theatre, Lakeshore Players, Stage Door, The American Globe, Manhattan Theatre Source, The Kitchen Theatre Company, The Exit Theater and many others. She has been a finalist for the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award and been nominated for an American Theatre Critics’ Association New Play/Steinberg Award. The Unfortunates was a TimeOut NY Critics Pick for the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival and selected as one of the best solo shows of the fringe as well as one of the ten shows not to miss by Backstage. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and is represented by Beacon Artists Agency NY. Her work has been published by Dramatists Play Service, Smith and Kraus, JAC Press, United Stages and others. She is currently teaching playwriting at Cornell University and working on a new play about vampires.
Gail Rastorfer (Mary Jane Kelly) – Gail has made Chicago her artistic home for the last 20 years where is has worked with The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, The Chicago Theatre, American Blues Theatre, Theatre at the Center, and First Folio Theatre among others. She’s been honored to bring new plays to life such as Hickorydickory (Chicago Dramatists) and The Gamester (Northlight). Regional credits include The Heidi Chronicles , The Game’s Afoot and You Can’t It with You (Asolo Repertory Theatre), Ten Chimneys and In the Next Room: or the vibrator play (Cleveland Playhouse), As You Like It (Indiana Repertory Theater), and < i> Mauritius (Madison Repertory). This past fall she worked with director Peter Amster on The Mousetrap (The Maltz Jupiter Theatre). Her television credits include Chicago Fire, Crisis, Boss, Chicago Code and a wide range of national commercials selling everything from insurance to vacuums. She serves on the Chicago board of SAG-AFTRA and is a proud member of AEA. www.GailRastorfer.com.
Kurt Johns (Director)  – Kurt is the Artistic Director of SoloChicago Theatre Company. He directed the World Premiere of SoloChicago’s inaugural production of Churchill at the Greenhouse Theatre Center and at New World Stages in New York City. He worked with theatre majors on contemporary musical theatre literature at Chicago College of Performing Arts where he directed the Midwest premiere of Lysistrata Jones. Kurt directed Apple Tree Theatre’s multi-award nominated transfer production of The Mistress Cycle at the Auditorium Theatre. Also at Apple Tree, Kurt directed Pen, Iron, The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife and Vincent in Brixton for which he received an After Dark Award. He also directed Iolanthe and Berlin to Broadway at Light Opera Works. Before turning to directing Kurt was an actor and performed in several Broadway productions including Chess and Aspects of Love. In Chicago he performed numerous times at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, The Goodman Theatre as well as Drury Lane Theatre and Apple Three. www.KurtJohns.com.

Creative Staff
Kurt Johns (Director)
Meg Elliott (Understudy-Mary Jane Kelly)
Jenniffer Thusing (Stage Manager, Scenic Coordinator)
Heather Sparling (Lighting Designer)
Alice Broughton (Costume Designer)
Paul Deziel (Projections Designer)
Eric Backus (Sound Designer, Composer)
Lynn Nelson Donovan (Properties)
Jason Shivers (Production Manager)

SoloChicago Theatre Company

2355 W. Jarvis Ave, Chicago, IL 60645

contact@solochicagotheatre.com