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Spinning

Recounted after the fact, Spinning tells the story of how a man’s pride and parental obsession led to the death of an innocent, and the ruin of his and several other peoples’ lives. The production directed by Joanie Schultz is as inquisitive as it is disturbing, zeroing in on the thorny question of what exactly to do with a person who has shown themselves to be capable of rash, destructive action after the law is finished with them. Read more

The Seagull (Artistic Home)

As shown by the number of new adaptations of The Seagull that have played in Chicago recently, Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play which he counterintuitively called a comedy still maintains a strong grip on the minds of theatregoers. After all, pretty much anyone who spends much time around young artists has met several Konstantins and Ninas. Though the production at the Artistic Home directed by Cody Estle does not reimagine this very often-done work, it is blessed with Christopher Hampton’s translation, which preserves the nuances and ironies in the characters’ dialogue, and makes it easily understandable in contemporary terms. Read more

The Distance

If you had a friend who was desperately unhappy and thought they needed to make a major change that would not only be completely different from what you would do, but offensive to your deepest-held morals, would you support them? That’s the question at the core of British writer Deborah Bruce’s 2012 play The Distance, now enjoying its American premiere under the direction of English transplant Elly Green. In it, three women make very different choices for their families, and as the friends delve deeper into their reasons for doing so during a crisis, their ability to put on a polite face for each other becomes more and more frayed. The result is a challenging examination of parental responsibility that is starkly honest and darkly funny. Read more

Tug of War: Foreign Fire

This spring’s six-hour long Tug of War: Foreign Fire is made up of the rarely-seen Edward III, Henry V, and Henry VI Part One. Next fall’s accompanying epic, Civil Strife, will consist of the other two parts of Henry VI, and Richard III. It’s an unusual combination, which massively re-contextualizes the Hundred Years War into an examination of personalities, and perhaps most significantly, transforms Henry V into a tragedy. The result, though in some way massive in scale, is also deeply intimate, and through the outstanding work of Gaines, her ensemble, and her production team, a long-ago conflict becomes vital again. Read more

One Man, Two Guvnors

Lovers of British comedy, lovers of classic commedia dell' arte, and patrons of fearless uninhibited acting will be impressed by the stage craft in this show. Laughs reign here. You'll be hard pressed to find a funnier comedy that One Man, Two Guvnors. This show begs for more commedial dell' arte physical comedy productions to be mounted in Chicago. Get to Court Theatre to see for yourself what smart comedy is all about. this is one of the finest shows of the year! Read more

Johanna Faustus

Over the past few years, The Hypocrites’ artistic director Sean Graney has produced a few Shakespeare adaptations that were only an hour long and were designed by their ensembles. But while those productions ran for the standard six weeks, his new adaptation with Emily Casey of Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is playing for a very limited engagement. Perhaps it’s being workshopped for another production later on. If so, it needs to be rethought in every aspect. Read more

Eurydice

As with the original myth, the heart of Eurydice is the love between Eurydice and Orpheus and, here, also between Eurydice and her father. If a production can’t make me feel this love in the actors, then 95 minutes of Sarah Ruhl’s sentimental poetry is a long time to endure just to see them all finally dunked in the oblivion of the River of Lethe. And by the end, I was just about dying to dunk myself. Read more

The Body of an American

It is well-known how easily a play about itself can go awry, especially when it contains heavy use of unusual performance techniques. However, writer Dan O’Brien knew that the story of his relationship with war photojournalist Paul Watson defied conventional narratives—it’s messy, inconclusive, and made up of snapshots taken from chaos. Fortunately, Stage Left director Jason A. Fleece knows just how to handle his two-man cast and team of designers to make each moment of the story clear and effective. Against the background of the shooting down of American Black Hawk helicopters in Somalia in 1993, as well as the threatened serenity of the Arctic, two men explore the ethics of their professions, and what drives them to keep on sharing theirs and other peoples’ dysfunctions with the world. Read more