Key Reviews: Revolution in ‘Crumbs From the Table of Joy’

These are the third set of reviews from this year’s The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. Members of this cohort are: Sierra Carlson, Yasmin Mikhaiel, Aaron Lockman, Elon Sloan, and Lonnae Hickman. All reviews are workshopped and edited by co-facilitators Oliver Sava and Regina Victor. Check out their reviews of Crumbs from the Table of Joy at Raven Theatre below!  Continue reading “Key Reviews: Revolution in ‘Crumbs From the Table of Joy’”

‘The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de Las Rosas’ Brings Superheroes to La Villita

This review was translated into Spanish by Itzel Blancas.

Comic books and superheroes have a long history of symbolically representing tense political and social realities in a way that is accessible to the general public. Knowing Ricardo Gamboa’s radical politics, and Free Street Theater’s commitment to making accessible theater that is representative of Chicago’s South Side, it only makes sense that they would collaborate to bring superheroes to the stage with The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de las Rosas. The play masquerades as a piece about Jimmy (Ulises Acosta), a baseball loving 13 year-old with telekinetic powers. Jimmy embarks on an adventure with siblings Eddie (Kyle Johnson) and Ayana (Ashley Bland), two Black homeless youths with superpowers of their own, and Juani (Mia Arevalo), the neighborhood gossip, to rescue his mom from an unknown villain. However, true to the comic-book genre, at its core the play also engages with a myriad of socio-political issues such as environmental justice, gentrification, police brutality, and immigration. Continue reading “‘The Real Life Adventures of Jimmy de Las Rosas’ Brings Superheroes to La Villita”

E. Faye Butler Shines in a Megawatt ‘Gypsy’

The production of Gypsy by Porchlight at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, represents the very best of musical theatre. Most older musicals rarely stand the test of time in terms of content, their stories often saddled with the most cringeworthy stereotypes and one-dimensional female characters. In contrast, Gypsy, originally written in 1957, may have been is  ahead-of-its time. Inspired by a true story about an ex-stripper turned stage-mom, it still pushes boundaries even in 2018. Pair that with a sophisticated book and lyrics by powerhouse duo Sondheim and Laurents, and a megawatt star like E. Faye Butler, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a show. Continue reading “E. Faye Butler Shines in a Megawatt ‘Gypsy’”

Male Fragility Fuels The Explosive ‘Fun Harmless Warmachine’

This review was penned by one of our current writers in The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. They are able to sign up for additional shows to grow their criticism portfolio with us. Read The Key Reviews from Fall 2018 here. 

Upon reading the synopsis, many would wonder if Fun Harmless Warmachine is the play we need right now. It’s the tale of the supposed “nice guy,” a gamer working a job he hates in a world where the words of women leave him baffled and angry. With this formula in mind, it is not too hard to believe Tom gets sucked into a toxic online community, known as the Order of the Sword, which first functions as a digital place of refuge, a place to confide in like-minded gamers. This story is based on #Gamergate, a notable controversy you should look up before the show—though the program offers a list of videogame definitions to fill in some of the blanks. Continue reading “Male Fragility Fuels The Explosive ‘Fun Harmless Warmachine’”

‘In the Canyon’ of America’s Grim Future

Calamity West has written a play set in a near future so plausible it feels as though we’re already, inescapably, locked into it. Produced by the Jackalope Theatre Company, In the Canyon begins in 2007 with Hope (Liz Sharpe) and her dud of a boyfriend, Doug, (Andrew Burden Swanson) on the afternoon they’ve ended an unintentional pregnancy. It’s a rational decision made by an ordinary woman, but this choice sets off a lifelong chain of events that carries us all the way to 2067. As we leapfrog from decade to decade in each subsequent scene, we watch America dismantled by patriarchal nationalist fervor. Mother earth rebels.

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Key Reviews: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

 

These are the second set of reviews from this year’s The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. Members of this cohort are: Sierra Carlson, Yasmin Mikhaiel, Aaron Lockman, Elon Sloan, and Lonnae Hickman. All reviews are workshopped and edited by co-facilitators Oliver Sava and Regina Victor. Check out their reviews of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Firebrand Theatre in collaboration with Timeline Theatre below! Continue reading “Key Reviews: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Mendoza – No se Olvide (We Will Not Forget)

Review by Hannah Herrera Greenspan
Spanish Translation by Claudia Quesada 

Power. Ambition. Corruption. Blood. Pain. In the round. Español. A live chicken. Need I say more?

I had the absolute delight to witness a brilliant adaptation of Macbeth, conceived by Juan Carrillo and Antonio Zúñiga, directed by Carrillo, of Los Colochos Teatro. This six-year old theatre company based in Mexico City, is committed to, “…a quality, critical, and national theater.” Los Colochos Teatro genuinely values the exchange of thoughts about the work. After the performance, Juan Carrillo asked audience members to share our thoughts with the company, good, bad, over social media, or face to face. Quite different from American theatre-where we leave the conversation to the discretion of the critic. Los Colochos wants to start a conversation with its audience members. How refreshing is that? Continue reading “Mendoza – No se Olvide (We Will Not Forget)”

Black Women Forgotten By History Soar in “Flyin’ West”

Opening with the calming sound of wind sweeping across the plains, Flyin’ West is pure Americana, evoking the broad grandeur of big skies and big hearts full of freedom. It is 1898, and a chosen family of black women have settled in the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas. American history in most classroom settings rarely acknowledges the existence of African-Americans outside of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, yet the Backstage Guide provided by American Blues Theatre in conjunction with the production, does a wonderful job of correcting this history of erasure. Continue reading “Black Women Forgotten By History Soar in “Flyin’ West””

‘Indecent’ A True Story of Breaking Artistic Barriers from 1900s-Present

Paula Vogel’s Indecent now playing at Victory Gardens begins with the cast of performers sitting upstage, almost blending into the set that transports you to an old Broadway style house, outlined with bright lights similar to a marquee. Upon first glance, the set appears to be a deep mahogany. But once the house lights go down, and the stage lights come up, the set is a cool cinder block grey. When the cast rises, ashes gush from the insides of their coats, hauntingly reflecting and foreshadowing the persecution Jews have faced. This opening image is so beautiful, it’s almost dream-like and sets the tone for the rest that will follow. Continue reading “‘Indecent’ A True Story of Breaking Artistic Barriers from 1900s-Present”

Key Reviews: Caroline, Or Change

These are the first reviews from the second session of The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program. This year’s cohort is Sierra Carlson, Yasmin Mikhaiel, Aaron Lockman, Elon Sloan, and Lonnae Hickman. All reviews are workshopped and edited by co-facilitators Oliver Sava and Regina Victor. Check out their reviews of Caroline, or Change at Firebrand Theatre in collaboration with Timeline Theatre below!
Continue reading “Key Reviews: Caroline, Or Change”