Key Reviews: ‘Rightlynd’ at Victory Gardens Theater

These are the fourth 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 Rightlynd at Victory Gardens Theater below! 
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‘The Dark At The Top of The Stairs’ Challenges Life, Love and Companionship

The Dark at The Top of The Stairs by William Inge  holds a universal theme– life is hard, love is hard, but if you have the right people it’s all worth it. Directed by Jerell Henderson, it focuses on a family of four; a begrudged father, an abiding yet willful mother, the bratty younger brother and his closed off sister.  We live in their home, more specifically their living room, for the entirety of this three-act production, it is littered with decor bringing an added authenticity to every moment (set design Sam Rausch). Continue reading “‘The Dark At The Top of The Stairs’ Challenges Life, Love and Companionship”

‘Small Mouth Sounds,’ A Tender, Introspective Comedy

Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds, directed by Shade Murray at A Red Orchid Theatre, is set at a silent retreat. Four strangers and one couple, have gathered to learn from an unseen guru (Meighan Gerachis) heard only through the loudspeaker system at the retreat center. As these characters camp out on the shores of a wooded lake coping with bug bites and bears, they reflect, communicate and seek inner peace. Continue reading “‘Small Mouth Sounds,’ A Tender, Introspective Comedy”

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’”

How I Missed The Jeff Awards, or, The Misrepresentation of the Chicago Theatre Community

Did you know the Jeff Awards were last Monday? If so, you’re already doing better than me. When I returned from working on Pipeline at Indiana Repertory Theatre, I said to a few friends I was planning on going to the Jeffs, which I thought was next Monday (today). I then had a quiet night in my home, scrolling through Facebook, reading scripts and hanging out with my cat, when my friend came over. “Hey!” She said, wine and cheese in hand – how any good friend should arrive at your door – “My boyfriend is at the Jeffs so he won’t be home for a while!” At this point, imagine me, going to the sunken place à la Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out. Continue reading “How I Missed The Jeff Awards, or, The Misrepresentation of the Chicago Theatre Community”

‘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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