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Lydie Breeze

By John Guareka tet theatre

Directed by Jeremy Garrett

Produced by Ka Tet Theatre

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago

Over acting and muddled speech hurt Guare’s over written play

John Guare’s 1982 play Lydie Breeze is the third play in his Nantucket cycle.  Guare seems to be channeling Eugene O’Neill here with the long flowery speeches and the ghost references hint at Ibsen.  This is not one of Guare’s better works. It is filled with too many long speeches that found me thinking about doing laundry.

ka tet theatre

Add to the 19th Century melodramatic writing is the decision by director Jeremy Garrett to have every actor in every scene over act with loud projection and over-the-top gestures.  Excitement is shown by wide arms and head movement; emotions expressed by shouting. Every character seems to try to top the other in melodramatics. This made for a tedious production that was totally unbelievable. Stevie Chaddock Lambert as Gussie Hickman and Mich Conti as Jeremiah Grady were particularly bitten by over acting. Add Julia Stemper’s mumbled Irish brogue and the slow pacing and Lydie Breeze becomes a long evening.

ka tet theatre

The overly themed and overly symbolized work is a challenge for most theatre troupe. The story covers the exploits of a commune of former Union Army soldiers who strive for a simple peaceful life in Nantucket. We learn that the Hickman clan is  cursed with suicide, homicide, syphilis, and illiteracy. The feebly attempts at redemption render as false as the play gets mired with too many long meandering speeches that never ring true. The combination of a troubled script and the decision to play it over-the-top doomed the work for me. Usually, Ka Tet Theater mounts stage worthy plays but not this time.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: October 17, 2013

For more info checkout the Lydie Breeze page at

At the Greenhouse theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL.

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