The Hawk Chicago had its biggest year ever in 2017 - we were thrilled to review 75 productions across the city! Here's my list of favorites for the year.
At the Table (Broken Nose Theatre)
It’s one thing to see a like-minded show that reaffirms all of your political and social beliefs--it’s quite another to watch one that completely challenges your preconceived notions. Broken Nose Theatre’s At the Table offered a breathtakingly genuine portrayal of a group of friends grappling with the way racial and sexual politics come into play within their small circle and left me asking questions I couldn’t fully answer.
Men on Boats (American Theater Co.)
This was one of the first shows I saw in 2017, but it’s certainly not one I’ve forgotten. Will Davis’ directorial debut with American Theater Company showcased a cast of badass women executing incredible choreography and deconstructing the masculinity of adventure narratives, with powerhouse Kelli Simpkins at the helm. Need I say more?
Lela & Co. (Steep Theatre)
Making a primarily monologue-based show engaging from start to finish can oftentimes prove challenging, but Steep Theatre’s Lela & Co. exhibited none of the typical struggles. In fact, from start to finish, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel’s incredible portrayal of Lela had me on the edge of my seat; it was undoubtedly the best performance I saw in 2017. Not to mention that the play itself took a poignant look at a fact that 2017 has constantly grapped with--that “truth” and “history” are determined by those in power.
Native Gardens (Victory Gardens)
What initially seemed like a campy but amusing backyard comedy dug up some serious issues in the play’s latter half. An impressive set and remarkable cast rounded out this witty show. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing Janet Ulrich Brooks (one of my favorite Chicago actors) wielding a chainsaw?
A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre)
Being somewhat Scrooge-like, I astounded myself by deciding to add Goodman Theater’s rendition of Dickens’ classic to my list - but I honestly can’t think of a play that made me smile broader than this incredibly joyous, inclusive take on this well-known story. What a wonderful, heartwarming way to wrap up an emotional 2017.
Circle Theatre’s Venus in Fur gave center stage to powerfully captivating leading lady Arti Ishak, Rivendell Theatre offered a thought-provoking yet funny play about the body/mind connection with The Firebirds Take the Field, and Mercury Theater turned this Hair-hater into a Hair-lover with performances by an incredible ensemble cast.