REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Shining City

By Conor McPhersonshining city by mcperhson

Directed by Joanie Schultz

At Redtwist Theatre, Chicago

Riveting contemporary Irish  ghost story is an actor’s treat

Brian Parry  (John) is in his usual good form as the middle aged guilt-ridden Irishman who blames himself for the death of his wife despite her being killed in an auto accident. He seeks help from Ian (John Arthur Lewis) a understanding therapist who has himself issues to deal with.

shining city by mcperhson

This riveting, superbly written,  and expertly performed 90 minute drama is a showcase for the talented actor Brian Parry.  Parry’s performance as the man collapsing under the weight of his lifeless marriage is brilliant and complete. He experiences rising rage toward his tender wife. Parry deftly tells his story in a series of long monologues to t he patient therapist. Guilt and a haunting sense of his life being out of his control rules John’s life after his wife’s death.

shining city by mcperhson

We see that Ian has issues with is girlfriend who had his baby girl. Neasa (Cheryl Lynn Golemo) arrives to nag Ian about the couple living with Ian’s brother. Ian answers her by announcing that he is leaving her since he no longer loves her. We learn that Ian was a priest and that he sinned by having sex with Neasa. Ian tells her that he has more personal issues to deal with that doesn’t involve her. Later, we see Ian as he brings a male hustler, Laurence (Kaelan Strouse) to his drab olive-green office (nice set designed by Nick Sieben).

Ian’s patience and listening skills allow John to vent his daemons. From his early story of how he saw and heard the ghost of his dead wife, we empathize with John’s guilt and imagination.

McPherson’s lyrical dialogue richly allows his characters to explore their inter anguish. Brian Parry is magnificent as the haunted soul struggling to find order in his life.  This drama requires your attention but once tuned in, it pays off. There is terror and a nice dose of compassion here that satisfies. John Arthur Lewis has several powerful moments. This is a engrossing 90 minutes of theatre. Redtwist Theatre continues to offer excellent shows.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: February 5, 2011

Jeff Recommended

For full show information, check out  the Shining City page at Theatre In Chicago.

At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-728-7529, tickets $25 – $27 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through February 27, 2011

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