REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Beautiful Broken

By Benjamin Brownsonbroken nose theatre

Directed by Thomas Murray

Produced by Broken Nose Theatre

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago

World Premier play is not ready for the stage

I enjoy see new theatre troupes  as the ever-expanding Chicago theatre scene seems to produce so I was curious about Broken Nose Theatre. They opened the world premiere of artistic director Benjamin Brownson’s Beautiful Broken at the Greenhouse Theatre to an enthusiastic audience last night. Packed with loyal friends of the cast and crew, Beautiful Broken lasted a whopping two hours and thirty-five minutes! It is a relationship “romantic dramedy” that plays like a redundant-filled, cliche-ridden contrived drama fueled with “playwright-speak” unrealistic dialogue with a too-slow razor thin plot. Other than Bradford Lund, the work is filled with weak performances and, at times, filled with actors who rush through their lines as they run their words together. In other words, this work fails every test of  stage worthy theatre.

broken nose theatre

We meet two couples, Paul (Bradford Lund) and Bridgette (Leslie Ruettiger) and Matt (Michael Bullaro) and Julie (Catherine Bullard). The guys are actors in a local Chicago Shakespeare troupe, the girls are in the theatre’s crew. Paul is a neurotic actor obsessed by living in the shadow of his dead brother. Julie likes Paul but she is being haunted by cell phone calls from her estranged father that continuously interrupts her moments with Paul (Why she doesn’t just turn off her phone is a mystery?)  Paul is determined to “fix” Bridgette and to help Matt mate with Julie. Filled with contrived and preposterous situations, Beautiful Broken drones on and on until it reaches unrealistic conclusions where lying and betrayal still leave room for possible reconciliation.  Add a silly character so obnoxious that I wanted to hit him with a stick, and Beautiful Broken simply tries too hard to combine backstage drama with corny humor and  stilted romance. This work needs to go back to the drawing board to refocus itself, make serious cuts, and thresh-out the character’s motivations more. As it now plays, it simply bores more than entertains. I’d skip this one.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 29, 2013

For more info checkout the Beautiful Broken page at

5 thoughts on “Beautiful Broken

  • Saw this show last night at opening. I am not a friend of anyone involved, and I found the play – while overlong – immensely entertaining. Fun young ensemble with a lot of energy that this review curiously doesnt see fit to make note of. Of course, I was sit across from Tom, who had a frown before the first scene began – someone went in looking for flaws, I would say.

  • I always to to the theatre expecting the show to be terrific and I let the show speak for itself

  • Sara T.

    “In other words, this work fails every test of stage worthy theatre.”

    Really, Tom? I’m a longtime reader of your blog, but after finding tickets for this show on Goldstar (where I would have bought tickets to previews, except that it has SOLD OUT) and thoroughly enjoying the show, I find it a tad ridiculous that you would criticize this show to the point of saying that it isn’t worthy of being staged. The audience reaction was pretty phenomenal, and I’m saying that as someone who is not one of the “loyal friends of the cast and crew.” In fact, you almost seem to mention that in your review as though (a) you know that to be fact, and (b) that invalidates any positive reaction that the play received on opening night. I attended the show because the logline sounded interesting, and I had no personal connection to the cast or crew. Does my laughter count MORE?

    I can usually see your side of things, but here, you pushed your insults to an unnecessary (and, in my opinion, inaccurate) extreme.

    🙂 Sara T.

  • I report what I saw. After attending several thousand openings, I know forced laughter when I hear it.

  • While a littler harsh, I have to agree with this review. Although it had a few good moments, the play could have been about half the length and I spent most of the time trying to figure out what exactly the plot was.

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