Articles tagged with: Writers’ Theatre
Review: Sam Shepard’s darkly funny tale is not so much about the decline of an American way of life as it is about us humans losing sight of ourselves in a blur of treachery, self-denial and retribution that threatens to extend through the generations backward and forward. As directed by Kimberly Senior in a superb production, Shepard’s realm is a ramshackle pasture of the heart, where truths too painful to confess refuse to stay buried no matter how much mind-numbing alcohol, or sexual abandon or vagabondage are applied. ★★★★
Review: Brawny Phil Hogan and his imposing, hard-as-nails daughter Josie are poor tenant farmers in 1920s Connecticut. James Tyrone Jr., who owns the farm, is a wealthy playboy who’s always had a soft spot for Josie – and for booze and, by loud proclamation, the tarts on Broadway. The daily bread of them all, these desperate occupants of Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” is mendacity. They lie to each other and they lie to themselves, until they each find some part of redemption in some measure of truth. Their rough progress toward that grail is a magical thing to witness at Writers Theatre. ★★★★
Interview: Actors know the OMG moment well. You win the audition and get the part. Then comes hard reality: You actually have to do it. But for Tyla Abercrumbie, who gives one of those performances you can’t take your eyes from in Eugene Lee’s “East Texas Hot Links” at Writers Theatre, the daunting truth was not simply that she had to measure up to what she’d won. She had to figure out why her character was even in the play.
Review: Eugene Lee’s lyrical tragedy “East Texas Hotlinks” is an exquisite song of betrayal, an ironic ballad of the enemy within. And it is pitch perfect in a fluent, wryly comedic and quite astonishing production directed by Ron OJ Parson at Writers Theatre. The grace and truth of August Wilson’s poetic style permeate the characters as well as the language of Lee’s 1991 play, a reflection of this playwright-actor’s long association with the Wilson canon. ★★★★★
Review: It has been only a half-season inauguration, this first series of plays in Writers Theatre’s splendid new building, but the finale, a sly and penetrating account of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company,” exemplifies how the main stage offers visitors an intimate, indeed an ideal, theatrical experience. ★★★★
Review: Never mind the arcane title of the play, “Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf,” which, yes, seems familiar in a vaguely disconcerting way. You know you’re face to face with existential authenticity the moment Blanche Dubois’ voice drops an octave, plunging as if into a steamy bath of lurid sensuality. From there, it becomes a challenge for every viewer, a game of dicey drama and riotous laughter in the black box at the new Writers Theatre. ★★★★★
Review: If a play, off the shelf as it were, could be tailor-made for the unveiling of a distinctive new theater, Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” an intellectual romp with a touch of tragedy, is the perfect inaugural raiment for Writers’ splendid new home in Glencoe. ★★★★★
20th in a series of season previews: Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam sees ideal choices in the two major productions planned for the spring 2016 opening of the company’s brand new home in Glencoe – Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” and the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.”
Interview: Of the eight Jewish characters huddled together against the Nazi terror just beyond the door of their little room, in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” one of them arguably feels the confinement, the boredom, the uselessness more than the others. He is Mr. van Daan, a business associate of Anne’s father; and Lance Baker, who portrays this restive soul at Writers Theatre, sees him as a man marginalized in his own heart.
Review: What makes Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s 1955 play “The Diary of Anne Frank” so compelling – and it is nothing less in the current production at Writers Theatre – fills a large frame of human drama. It is a complex profile of hope shadowed by terror and despair, and finally crushed under the boot of hatred. But still, first, there is innocent hope, a luminous vision of life abounding in wonder, possibility and good. ★★★★★
Review: ★★★ As a clinical study of narcissism, even autism, in a budding young genius, Lucas Hnath’s play “Isaac’s Eye,” an imaginary clash between the obscure 25-year-old Isaac Newton and the celebrated British scientist Robert Hooke, is clever and sometimes brilliant theater. But as drama, it comes off at Writers Theatre as, well, a clinical study. ★★★
Sixth in a series of season previews: “We have a challenging year coming up,” says Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam. Yes, and an exciting one — on an electric scale. Writers, in case anyone has missed this, is building a $31 million new home on the site of the company’s former main stage in Glencoe. So the 2014-15 season will be miniaturized , with the main drama focused on the grand house that’s projected to have its grand opening in winter 2016.
Interview: In working out her transfixing performance in the harrowing pas de trois that is August Strindberg’s “The Dance of Death,” now on the boards at Writers Theatre, actress Shannon Cochran says she got an indirect boost from Irish playwright Conor McPherson, who created the new English-language adaptation at hand.
Review: If you liked Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” you’ll love the original: August Strindberg’s “The Dance of Death,” wherein a toxic, blood-sport marriage between a venomous old soldier and his hissing wife make the sniping between Albee’s George and Martha feel once more present in the room. Writers Theatre provides the well-polished dance floor for Strindberg’s caustic waltz. ★★★★★
Preview: When the League of Chicago Theatres decided to stage its first Chicago Theatre Week last year, offering discounted tickets to some 100 productions and other perks in a sort of regional stimulus package, no one knew how it would go – whether the public would bite. What happened was more like a gobble: All 6,000 tickets in the discount pool were snapped up. Now Chicago Theatre Week is back, with the 2014 version of dramas for $15 and $30, and this time the presenters exude optimism.
Ninth in a series of season previews: As artistic director Michael Halberstam began putting together the 2013-14 season at Writers’ Theatre with associate artistic director Stuart Carden, one coincidence seemed too good to be true: Halberstam’s right-hand man had been the teacher, at Carnegie-Mellon University, of an eclectic group of seven buddies called the PigPen Theatre Co., who were the buzz of Greenwich Village for their folksy fable called “The Old Man and the Old Moon.” The charming off-Broadway saga now comes to Writers’.
Ravinia Festival Best Bets: If you want to branch out a bit musically, the summertime Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is a good place for it. There, classical music lovers sample niche-expanding novelties of the sort that gave Brooklyn Academy of Music its must-see reputation. College students picnic on the lawn for free when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs. And family friendly movie prices rule for recitals featuring the latest contest winners and stars on the rise.
Eighth in a series of season previews: Words, words, words. Are they the stuff of truth or the fabric of prevarication? Writers’ Theatre will bookend its 2012-13 season with both possibilities, swinging the spotlight from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in his quest for veracity to Corneille’s feigning manipulator in “The Liar.”
Sondheim’s paean to love. 4 stars!
Deliciously bizarre test of wits. 4 stars!