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Review: Lucas Hnath’s dark, wry and bitter play “Death Tax” unfolds like a recitation of humankind’s less savory qualities. Duplicity probably tops the list here, but there’s also ample place for avarice, covetousness, vanity and exploitative guilt. Remarkably enough, this brilliant 90-minute descent into the lower depths of human behavior is as fascinating as it is dismaying – and it’s imbued with visceral truth by a wholly immersed, intimate ensemble at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
Review: Redtwist Theatre, the fearless vest-pocket company in Edgewater, winds up its season, the last for co-founder and artistic director Michael Colucci at the helm, with its first venture into Shakesespeare: a lean, uneven “King Lear,” but one altogether imposing in Brian Parry’s assured, fierce and affecting performance in the title role. ★★★
Review: As shaggy dog stories go, Grace McLeod’s “Herland,” now rollicking about in the very small space of Redtwist Theatre, is funny from start almost to finish. The show derives its nearly nonstop energy and substantial appeal from three middle-aged actresses and a convincingly vulnerable young actress playing in a you-are-there garage set. Right at the finish line, however, “Herland” makes a sudden shift from high comedy to self-conscious morality tale and concludes in an awkward effort to make its point. ★★★
Review: Pops is a retired black New York cop – retired because he got thoroughly shot up by a fellow cop (white) while Pops was off-duty at an unsavory watering hole. But he gets along well enough in his rent-controlled Riverside Drive apartment, which he shares with a son who’s into some shady business and a slow-witted, adoring young ex-con. That’s the frame, the border around the stress points, of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulizer Prize-winning play “Between Riverside and Crazy,” which enjoys a detailed, charged and mesmerizing go-round in the tiny arena that is Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
Fourth in a series of season previews: Fifteen years into its venture of creating high-voltage drama in a really small space, Redtwist Theatre will roll out its first production ever by the Bard of Avon. And what else would you choose for a first leap into Shakespeare on a postage-stamp stage but “King Lear”?
Review: On Aug. 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first president of the United States to resign from office, rather than face almost certain impeachment and removal after the Watergate scandal. But doggedly insisting that “I’m not a crook,” he never admitted to wrong-doing – until three years later, in a most improbable interview with British talk show host David Frost. That’s the setup of Peter Morgan’s 2006 play “Frost/Nixon,” which Redtwist Theatre has brought to its compact space with Brian Parry as Nixon, up close and amazing. ★★★★★
Review: It’s a singular experience to sit through what is essentially a feel-good play, and to reach the end with the sense that you’ve actually seen a genuine drama. Such is the rare form and substance of Chisa Hutchinson’s “Surely Goodness and Mercy,” offered by a splendid cast in the ideal intimacy of Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
Review: Just when you think you’ve seen the ultimate dysfunctional family on stage, along comes Suzanne Heathcote’s gritty play “I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn’t Even Smile,” a stunner that touches a core of hope in a mesmerizing production at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
Review: Brian Parry’s heartbreaking performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” at Redtwist Theatre is the finest work I’ve seen on a Chicago stage this season. A virtually tactile experience in a tiny, in-your-face venue, this is gigantic acting on the most intimate scale. Even better for theater buffs, the show’s run has been extended through March 26. ★★★★★
Review: The two kids are very bright, their jobless father is a contented drunk and their outwardly flinty mother coddles him. They, along with a couple of low-trajectory friends and a visionary young teacher new to the community, are the denizens of Lucy Thurber’s “Scarcity,” now in its Chicago premiere at Redtwist Theatre. ★★
2016-17 SEASON PREVIEW: The following is a news release written by an arts organization, submitted to Chicago On the Aisle.
Redtwist Theatre is pleased to announce its 13th Season!
“Turtle,” a world premiere by Jake Jeppson, and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” are in the mix.
Review: Maggie and Mitch are so in love. She’s 18 and he could be, oh, three times her age. What’s wrong with this picture? That would depend on which of four perspectives you subscribe to in Redtwist Theatre’s excruciating take on Irish playwright Bryan Delaney’s “The Seedbed.” ★★★★
Review: Life, suggests Richard Strand’s play “The Realization of Emil Linder,” is like a stack of DVDs. What’s in it for you depends on how you look at it. That warm and fuzzy proposition, couched within dark comedy, makes for an amusing if fairly bizarre night out at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★
Review: Inevitable in every theater season is the sleeper play, the one you overlook: the curiously titled unknown quantity you don’t quite connect with as a lure from the hearth on a cold Thursday night. Such an unforeseeable beauty and memorable winner, a genuine sleeper, is Michael Healey’s “The Drawer Boy” at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
Review: Seeing a play at tiny Redtwist Theatre, where a full house of 30 or 40 viewers often encircles the unfolding drama, can be an experience of in-your-face intensity. But the company’s electric burn through Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” takes intensity to a harrowing new place. ★★★★★
Fifth in a series of season previews: Seven seasons ago, Michael Colucci and Jan Ellen Graves, the married founders and still co-artistic directors of Redtwist Theatre, went at each other as George and Martha, the warring gamers in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” This season they hand over those rhetorical 8-ounce gloves to new sparring mates as Redtwist opens its 2015-16 series with another go at Albee’s dark comedy about love and marriage.
Review: Margie’s life is hard, like the “g” in her name. It’s all she’s ever known. She grew up in the rough-and-tumble projects of Boston’s south side – a real “Southie.” She doesn’t have much, but at least she has a job; well, had a job. As we look in on Margie’s lot in David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People,” now staged with potent intimacy at Redtwist Theatre, she’s about to be fired. ★★★★
Review: Arthur Miller’s plays consistently center on the vicissitudes of ordinary folks, with economic plight as a common theme. What might this avowed life-long liberal, who died in 2005, have written about America today? Actually, a plausible answer is before us, in Redtwist Theatre’s gritty, chilling production of Miller’s “The American Clock,” a cautionary retelling of the saga of the Great Depression. ★★★★
Review: ★★★★ There’s nothing simple about either life or the color red. Both exist only as seemingly infinite inflections of their root ideas. But black is another matter. If red bespeaks life in all its surging complexity, black is its absolute opposite, the absolute end. Or so declares the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in John Logan’s play “Red,” which roils and rages with irrepressible force at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★
11th in a series of season previews: Redtwist Theatre has dubbed its 2014-15 season “Rising From the Ashes,” and it begins literally with precious objects scooped from the debris of the catastrophe of 9/11 – in the world premiere of Cathy Earnest’s play “Another Bone.” In the aftermath of the Twin Towers attack, as human bones are sorted and identified through DNA testing, families receive these certified remembrances of their loved ones. The widowed Marie has been the recipient of many culled bones when a woman contacts her, claiming Marie has been getting the wrong bones, and that she must hand them over. What follows is a surreal and ghostly game at high psychological stakes.
Review : Jimmy Porter is a bright but very angry young working-class Englishman who has grown to adulthood in the decade following the end of World War II. While he has married somewhat above his social grade, his life is going nowhere. In John Osborne’s searing 1956 play “Look Back in Anger,” Jimmy consecrates his sharp wit and tireless energy to a seething, circular rant. Jonathan Berry directs an electric production at Redtwist Theatre, where Joseph Wiens lends volcanic Jimmy all the brilliance and sadness of a man in existential warp, spiritually homeless in a world that has lost its meaning. ★★★★
Review: Happiness. Is it an authentic state of contentment, fulfillment, grace – or merely delusion, self-deception and denial? Playwright Robert Caisely pummels the question in “Happy,” an ironically titled session of group misery directed by Elly Green with stunning acerbity at Redtwist Theatre. ★★★
Review: There’s garden variety theatrical intimacy, and then there’s the astonishing, welcome-to-the-family tumult of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” in the living room space that is Redtwist Theatre. ★★★★★
14th in a series of season previews: What Redtwist Theatre artistic director Michael Colucci calls “the storefront premiere” of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” and the world premiere of ensemble member Tommy Lee Johnston’s “Geezers” will bookend the company’s 2013-14 season. Redtwist also will embark on a two-fold expansion program designed to create new opportunities for directors and actors just out of theater school.
17th in a series of season previews: Redtwist Theatre’s founding artistic director Michael Colucci hopes the third time will be the charm as he attempts once again to find a Chicago audience for Arthur Miller’s “Broken Glass” – the launch piece for a 2012-13 season that also spotlights the Chicago premieres of Lee Blessing’s “Body of Water” and Leslye Headland’s “Reverb.”
Cripple Billy’s adventure. 4 stars!
Preview: Chicago’s turn into real winter comes with the consolation of intriguing theater just ahead. Think of it as warming countermeasures. Porchlight offers the musical farce “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” while Raven plots Paula Vogel’s now-classic memory play “How I Learned to Drive.” American Blues jumps into the season’s second half with Steven Dietz’s “On Clover Road.” If a play synopsis that begins “At an abandoned motel on a desolate road” sounds more like a chiller, at least it will unfold in a snug place.