Articles tagged with: Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Review: If ever there was a play meant for the sleight of Teller’s magicianly hand, it is Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The Scottish tragedy is all about what appears to be there, but is not. Ambiguity, misdirection, illusion: This is the stuff of “Macbeth,” and it forms the clever heart of the play’s current incarnation at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. I should hasten to add that Teller is only co-director; his fellow conspirator is Aaron Posner, whose invisible hand operates more on the dramatic side of events and indeed quickens both the show’s pace and the viewer’s pulse. ★★★★
Review: Everything about Friedrich Schiller’s battle-of-the-queens historical drama “Mary Stuart,” staged at Chicago Shakespeare, proclaims compleat theater. From Peter Oswald’s adroit translation of this German-language verse play to Jenn Thompson’s fluent direction and the masterful, knowing work of a large cast, CST’s “Mary Stuart” is a many-splendored triumph. ★★★★★
Review: Covent Garden’s greatest tragedian has collapsed in the midst of his 1833 “Othello” run, requiring the theater to swap in a substitute for the traditional blackface role of the Moorish general who commits a crime of passion against his fair-skinned wife. Perhaps London might delight in the novelty of a 25-year-old “African” actor to save the day. Dion Johnstone stars in this emotionally charged drama – based on an actual event – by British playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, who likes her humor dry. ★★★★
Review: While Larry Yando’s indelible Ebeneezer Scrooge is once again delighting children and tapping into adult truths in Goodman Theatre’s indispensable staging of “A Christmas Carol” (★★★★), the Q Brothers are back at Chicago Shakespeare rapping Dickens’ parable on greed and misanthropy to a reggae beat (★★★). The Spirit of Christmas Present walks among us anew.
Review: On the surface, the idea of an all-female cast for Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” smacks of gimmickry. Framing the story within a contrivance about the women’s campaign in 1919 for the right to vote sounds downright tormented. But “The Taming of the Shrew,” for modern audiences the most problematic entry in the Shakespeare canon, surely has not been brought to the stage with greater wit, brilliance or plausibility since – oh, since women got the right to vote. ★★★★★
Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s new production of the Bard’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is a joyous voyage of discovery, a comedic delight that strips away the thicket of a problematic play and leaves us with the bare sober truth of human folly. Deftly edited and wittily directed by Marti Maraden, it brings together an acting ensemble so well integrated that the whole rollicking night feels like the work of a practiced improv troupe. ★★★★★
Review: Chicagoland theater buffs have spent a goodly part of the last year reveling in the many and wondrously diverse events of Shakespeare 400 Chicago. This circle of opportunity, revelation and indeed riotous and profound fun – engineered mainly by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and its artistic director, Barbara Gaines — comes to a close Dec. 21 with the final performances of “The Winter’s Tale.” It’s a crackling production by the British company Cheek by Jowl, and one that brings the yearlong observance back to its auspicious starting place. ★★★★
Review: Not very far into Mike Bartlett’s “King Charles III,” directed by Gary Griffin at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, I found myself wondering how it all might work telescoped into a monodrama and spoken – not declaimed, heaven help us – by Robert Bathurst, the king in waiting here and the one actor in view who seemed to understand that blank verse is not speech set to the head-pounding of a jackhammer. ★★
Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s outsized and smartly honed two-part miniseries “Tug of War,” focusing on the endless cycle of royal usurpation and bloodshed in the Bard’s history plays, comes to its conclusion with a sequence that illuminates the brief reign and unsurprising death of horseless Richard III at Bosworth Field. For my part, I shall not ask with the great songstress Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?” My question is: When will we be able see it again? ★★★★
Review: In a tradition dating back to Shakespeare’s own time, “The Merchant of Venice,” which frames bitter hatred between Christians and Jews in a metropolis of a distant era, has been labeled as comedy. I doubt that anyone who sees the brutally frank Shakespeare’s Globe production now running at Chicago Shakespeare Theater will come away laughing. ★★★★★
Review: What is so striking about the current, altogether marvelous production of “Othello” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is that the beleaguered Moor is no mere catalyst in the very events of which he is the object, but rather presents himself as a man – a great military general — worthy of his reputation. In the person of James Vincent Meredith’s Othello, and in the care of British director Jonathan Munby, Shakespeare’s play for once does not seem to be first and foremost about Iago. ★★★★★
News Release: Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Navy Pier announce partnership that will expand Chicago Shakespeare’s campus and establish a year-round cultural hub on Navy Pier
Review: What’s the first image that overtakes you when you think of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”? Perhaps the broken old man, carrying forth the dead body of his youngest daughter. Or the powerless king, cheering the all-shaking thunderstorm as he howls his rage. In the Belarus Free Theatre production on view at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the unwavering focus is the insanity and chaos of life in the king’s repressive regime. ★★★
Review: Chicago’s holiday offerings include Three Scrooges — not a show, but a trio of shows all based on “A Christmas Carol.” And yes, there’s some slapstick in it, even ribaldry, depending on which flavor of Dickens you choose.
Review: In double magic that beguiles ear and eye with levity and levitation, Chicago Shakespeare Theater has invoked a rare vision of the Bard’s lyrical play of vengeance transcended by forgiveness, “The Tempest.” Co-directed with no slight imagination and great sleight of hand by Adam Posner and the magician Teller (he of Penn and Teller fame), CST’s season opener is pure enchantment – as credibly human and affecting as it is vibrant, fanciful and fresh. ★★★★★
8th in a series of season previews
Review: You can just as easily chart a path from Jane Austen to Stephen Sondheim as you can from Austen to Disney, and thus it is not surprising that Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s artistic director Barbara Gaines should create the world premiere production of Paul Gordon’s diverting new musical based on Austen’s first published novel. “Sense and Sensibility” tells the astonishingly vital story of two sisters of marriageable age – one a yin to the other’s yang – in the 1790s. ★★★★
Interview: “I have no idea what it’s really like to be a queen, to run a country, or to have a child,” says the veteran Irish actress Siobhan Redmond, who portrays Lady Macbeth, rethought as Gruach in David Greig’s “Dunsinane,” currently produced by National Theatre of Scotland at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. “But the audience must believe that I have the weight of Scotland on my back.” Yes, Lady Macbeth lives.
Review: Surprise! Lady Macbeth didn’t die, after all. And how lucky for us that Scottish playwright David Greig decided to revive Macbeth’s formidable spouse, who now even has a name: Gruach. This very grand dame is the gravitational force of Greig’s “Dunsinane,” a thriller of a play brought to rugged, abundant life by the National Theatre of Scotland at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. ★★★★★
Preview: Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is a tale told by an idiot full of…no, wait a sec. That’s not right. The idiotic tale is life – life itself, which Shakespeare’s reckless, overreaching, murderous Macbeth has messed up beyond redemption. In its 75-minute reduction of the Bard’s Scottish play aimed at junior high and high school students, Chicago Shakespeare Theater explores themes of power and evil, personal accountability and the dire consequences of rash action. “Macbeth” opens Jan. 24 at CST.
Review: It was an aha moment, in French. The final madcap flourish of “Ionesco Suite,” the Paris ensemble Théâtre de la Ville’s nonstop 80-minute pastiche drawn from Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist plays, now in a brief run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, sent my mind reeling back through the decades to my college days. ★★★★
Review: Were it not for Larry Yando’s crushing turn in the title role, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “King Lear” would amount to little more than an ill-advised concept played out by a cast that largely misses both the pulse and the pressure of Shakespeare’s language. Setting aside for the moment this production’s manifold curiosities, at its core reigns the regal figure of Yando, whose portrait of Lear – as imperious fool stripped to his humiliated soul – is an experience not to be missed. ★★★
Fifth in a series of season previews: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre honors its namesake this season with an autumn production of “King Lear,” the fantastic adventures of “Pericles” and a contemporary sequel to “Macbeth” that wryly ponders the chaos that befalls Scotland upon that usurper’s demise. Capping the season will be the world premiere of the musical “Sense and Sensibility,” composer-lyricist Paul Gordon’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.
Review: Imagine that consummate romantic legend of heroic Tristan and beautiful Isolde, thrust together into illicit love by circumstance and a potion, as a tragi-comedy. No? Can’t conceive of that? Then you have yet to see the visiting Kneehigh theater company’s outlandish “Tristan & Yseult,” which now bounces about the boards at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. ★★★
Review: Chicago Shakespeare Theater has given us a “Gypsy” for our own time, one that embraces the difference that 55 years have made since the brassy blockbuster first strutted onto the stage. As directed by Gary Griffin, it’s a gritty roadshow musical with a surprisingly contemporary and tender heart. ★★★★★
Review: You never know what pared-down, free-wheeling adaptation of Shakespeare you’re going to get at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. But even for CST, its 1940s setting of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” complete with a musical track of period pop tunes, takes fast-and-loose into a new dimension. It’s also a complete delight. ★★★★
Preview: What could be funnier, or crazier, a more riotous lark than Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s touring production of the Bard’s “Taming of the Shrew” in parks across Chicago last summer? The answer well may be this summer’s CST encore: 26 free performances in 18 parks of Shakespeare’s madcap farce “The Comedy of Errors.”
Interview: Ora Jones, so assured and imposing as Queen Katherine in “Henry VIII” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, was just as confident she had blown her audition for the part. And that wasn’t such a bad thing, she thought – because Katherine’s great speech in her trial scene, the very audition piece that Jones would come to deliver with authentic majesty, had left the actor essentially mystified.