Heading into Goodman Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale, I knew little about the play save for its reputation as one of William Shakespeare’s most confounding works. Written in the Bard’s later years, its drastic tonal shifts refuse neat categorization into “tragedy” or “comedy,” and critics have endlessly pondered both Shakespeare’s intentions and the play’s performance value as a result. Under the artful direction of Robert Falls, though, Goodman’s production takes this Shakespearean challenge head-on, embracing both its intense drama and humor. Falls’ take is stylistically stunning and wonderfully acted, but the adaptations’ own inconsistencies diminish its overall effect.
As irregular weather and natural disasters become evermore prevalent worldwide, so, it seems, does environmental dystopian fiction. And while many of these stories are preoccupied with doomsday drama, Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children is not one of them; rather than focusing on grisly details and destruction, the script delves instead into how humanity both changes and remains the same in the face of devastation--how we desperately hold on to connections and relationships despite the knowledge of pending doom. It’s a deeply moving and thought-provoking script, one that propels its viewers deep into the recesses of what ifs, but Steppenwolf’s production lacks a certain intensity to make the earth-shattering impact forecasted in Kirkwood’s text.
The Second City made a wise decision bringing Annaliese Toft back to direct the newest e.t.c. revue after she helmed the wonderfully orchestrated Gaslight District. Their 43rd revue, Grinning from Fear to Fear, is even more cohesive and hilarious, and much of the infectious energy is due to Toft’s lead. A wonderful ensemble and tonally balanced scenes add to an unforgettable evening of theatre, providing a strong reminder of why The Second City is among the most respected comedic institutions in the world.
You've most likely heard of Windy City Playhouse's long-running Southern Gothic by now. But if you haven't yet RSVP'd to the birthday party at the home of Ellie (Sarah Grant) and Beau (Michael McKeough), you're missing out on the unique, immersive experience that makes this world premiere such a must-see.
Though film adaptations of popular musicals oftentimes miss the mark, there are a select few whose iconic renditions make bringing them back to the stage challenging. Do you emulate the film’s popular choices? Do you try a completely different approach? Can the Grease finale work without leather pants?!
If you’re like me, you might have heard about the Mars One mission in passing back in 2015. The concept was that kind of science-fiction that seemed tantalizingly close to reality; a one-way manned mission to Mars and the promise of being the first humans on the red rock. You might have read the People article interviewing the semi-finalists or potentially heard about the immediate financial troubles of the initiative. More likely, though, you might have asked yourself the more abstract, philosophical, and somewhat obvious question: if given the opportunity, would you give up everything to make history?
What would a play about the intimate details of you and your best friend’s lives include? Choreographed dance parties? Made up words? Passive aggressive fights? Morgan Gould’s I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apartticks off all these boxes in its twelve-month overview of friend soulmates Samantha and Leo. Packed with hilarious one-liners and touching moments, the script does a fantastic job of portraying the ups and downs of even the closest friendships, even if it’s final act seems somewhat misplaced.
Is a person’s success determined by innate biological forces or environmental variables? This question, the crux of the classic nature vs nurture dispute, serves as the driving force in Rebecca Gilman’s Twilight Bowl. Though perhaps not her most groundbreaking work, Gilman’s intensive character study of college-age women struggling against their circumstances is a nuanced, well-written play with social significance beyond its small-town setting.
In a boarded-up hotel room in the middle of nowhere, a desperate mother and private investigator join forces to bring a missing girl home. Over 90 minutes, more twists than a country road push these characters further and further from the expected, culminating in a nail-biting finale that satisfies - even if some of the narrative surprises are more confusing than clear.
It’s commonly known among Chicagoans that this particular time of the year is, inarguably, the worst; the post-holiday blues have hit in full force, and the once-picturesque snow has rendered the streets and sidewalks a slushy obstacle course. Enter Noises Off. Windy City Playhouse’s rendition of the ever-popular farce acts as the perfect antidote for the winter blues. Though its antics have not all aged well, there is still plenty to generate some much-needed laughter and warmth, and Windy City’s technical triumphs only add to the experience.