Articles tagged with: Raven Theatre
Review: Harold Pinter’s play “Betrayal” begins at the end – beyond the end, actually. And from there, this gritty slant on the eternal triangle works its way backward through the embers, the blaze and the multifarious deceptions of an affair. The affair is a tangled, bruising mess; the telling of it, at Raven Theatre, is a thing of raw-boned beauty. ★★★★
Review: Lolita Chakrabarti’s eloquent play “Red Velvet,” currently offered in a keen-edged production at Raven Theatre, is a full-body immersion in the cold, foul waters of racial bigotry. Named for the seductive stuff that covers seats and railings in many a theater, the drama concerns the historical 19th-century African-American actor Ira Aldridge, a major figure on stages across Europe for three decades beginning in the 1830s. ★★★★
14th in a series of season previews: Opening with a run of Midwest premieres, Raven Theatre expands from four plays to five this season to capitalize on the opportunity offered by its dual performing spaces. And first up is a Mark Stein’s searing “entertainment” with the long, ironically evocative title of “Direct from Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys (An Evening of Vaudeville and Sorrow).”
Interview: The most disarming, lovable character I’ve seen on a Chicago stage this season has to be 15-year-old Seta, refugee of the Armenian genocide and mail-order bride in Richard Kalinoski’s “Beast on the Moon,” played with big-eyed, open-hearted exuberance by Sophia Menendian, who’s all of 20. She says she captured Seta’s buoyancy by recalling her own unbridled spirit as an adolescent.
Review: Outwardly, Richard Kalinoski’s play “Beast on the Moon” is about a young man and a teenage girl, refugees from the 1915 Armenian genocide who have lost their families and embark on a new life together as immigrants in Milwaukee. But as Raven Theatre’s exuberantly funny and sensitive production so urgently telegraphs, this tragi-comedy is ultimately about the beast within – a fearsome creature of the mind spawned by terror, isolation and guilt. ★★★★
15th in a series of season previews: Out of what co-artistic director Michael Menendian calls “a lot hand-wringing,” Raven Theatre has fashioned a family-business themed season that begins with a company reprise of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” includes a world premiere and ends with a play about Armendian genocide that’s close to Menendian’s heart. “It’s the greatest challenge to pick the season,” he says, “The goal is to balance the tone without essentially repeating the same story.”
Review: Raven Theatre’s very fine production of Tennessee Williams’ “Vieux Carré” bespeaks that lyrical playwright in the long, sad twilight of his creative career and, indeed, his life. It is a look back into the predawn of Williams’ emergence as an important voice, a play filled with rich characters of meager means, and the lean, fierce eloquence of this account directed by Cody Estle gets it wonderfully right. ★★★★
Review: One always comes away from a play performance, whether the staged work is new or familiar, with a single dominant impression. It may be a complex impression, but there’s always that ruling aspect, the starting point from which the conversation evolves. In the case of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s “Good Boys and True” at Raven Theater, it is a sense of relentless circularity. ★★
Review: We cannot watch or read the likes of Brian Friel’s “Translations” or Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan” without sensing the sublimated presence of John Millington Synge’s 1907 comedy “The Playboy of the Western World.” It is a cornerstone of modern Irish theater, and it’s all there in Raven Theatre’s idiomatic staging — the brisk dialect and wry humor, the tumbling physicality and muted hues, the seed and genesis of everything we love about Irish drama in the present tense. ★★★★
Tenth in a series of season previews: From the season opener, Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” to the finale with Tennessee Williams’s “The Vieux Carré,” the 2013-14 lineup of plays at Raven Theatre centers on what artistic director Michael Menendian calls “that little ache in our heart, the secret longing for a different life.”
Review: In an obvious sense, Charles Fuller’s 1982 drama “A Soldier’s Play,” recently opened in a sharply detailed production at Raven Theatre, is about the virulent ugliness of racism as it persisted in the mid-20th century deep South. But more than that, Fuller’s story grapples with the despair and self-loathing that can infect the soul of an oppressed people. ★★★
Report: Tickets will be $15 and $30.
Shows of the season: A roundup
Sixth in a series of season previews: Technically, it may not be a Chicago premiere, but Clifford Odets’ “The Big Knife,” which opens Raven Theatre’s 30th anniversary season, would be a rarity on any stage and artistic director Michael Menendian is eager to revive this sober tale of glitzy Hollywood’s dark side.
Arthur Miller on memory’s attic. 3 stars.
Interview: Michael Stegall, who looks and sounds every inch a ropin’ cowboy in the Raven Theatre production of William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” grew up in the West. No surprise there. But wait a minute. Not that West. The 6-foot-3, 23-year-old actor hails from Palm Springs, CA, where the buffalo do not roam.
Engagingly off-kilter charms. 3 stars