Category Archives: Mini-Review

Kenneth Branaugh and Rob Ashford’s THE WINTER’S TALE arrives

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, the first offering of Kenneth Branaugh’s Plays at the Garrick, arrived on American movie screens last evening. After an interminable unedited film of the Garrick audience doing nothing but sitting, the production began, the American audience not as well-disposed as it had been forty minutes earlier when the unedited […]

Dunsinane: Our World, Unfortunately

David Grieg’s exciting new play Dunsinane, an imaginative follow up to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, illustrates profoundly the difference between Shakespeare’s world and our own. Shakespeare’s characters lived as part of the Great Chain of Being – a cosmos vertically connecting each lowly jot and tittle of the earth in a direct line, through human beings, to God. In […]

Man and Superman: Audience Wins This Battle of the Sexes

With his parents having the kind of marriage they did, George Bernard Shaw grew up determined to avoid marriage. One of his first novels The Irrational Knot, written as a 24 year old, was an attack on the “villainous institution of marriage. “ Shaw preferred dalliances with married women. Partly to justify his growing reputation […]

La Clemenza di tito: Titus as Christ

Our first visit to the Lyric Opera at the Civic Opera House since coming to Chicago was to see Mozart’s last Opera La Clamenza di tuti. The Civic Opera House is magnificent. Built in 1929, it’s art deco styling is one of the most glorious theater interiors I’ve seen. Legend has it that this theater […]

ShawChicago’s ST. JOAN: Thrilling Theater

When I was a theater student, common wisdom held that the two great theater writers of the English language were Shakespeare and Shaw. Their plays were taught in classes, sold in bookstores, and regularly performed. This is no longer the case. Shaw has disappeared from the classroom and the bookstores. Performances are, alas rare. Why […]

FUN WITH THOMAS HEYWOOD

Today we visited the Newberry Library, opened in 1893, and home of a world famous Renaissance Studies Center, including not only a First Folio of Shakespeare, but an extensive collection of first editions of plays by Thomas Heywood (1574-1641), whose play The Fair Maid of the West Part 1 we intended to see. (We doubted […]

Remy Bumppo’s An Inspector Calls: Excellent Acting, Provocative Script

The stated mission of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, in its 17th year, is to “engage audiences with the emotional and ethical complexities of society through the provocative power of great theatrical language.” J. B. Priestley’s 1945 mystery An Inspector Calls is probably more provocative now than when it premiered in Josef Stalin’s 1945 Russia, but for […]

A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol: Burlesque is Back and the Audience Loves It!

Charles Dickens was an enthusiastic patron of burlesque; he noted, “the sacred lamp of burlesque” is “always crammed”. No, the author of A Christmas Carol wasn’t a fancier of striptease clubs. The term burlesque originally denoted a form of theatre, now almost extinct. Shadows of this, the greatest popular entertainment, may be seen in reruns […]

The Hypocrites’ Mikado: A Masterpiece Restored

When Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado opened in New York in 1886 Harper’s Magazine called it “pure rollicking fun. It is capital nonsense.” Since that time few productions of the great operetta have been worthy of those words. Time had accumulated layers of dust on the great and wild operetta.  Now a band of wise, […]

Hamlet in Jack Bauer-land

We returned to the Music Box Theater to see an encore of Nicholas Hynter’s 2010 Hamlet at the National Theatre. First of all, Rory Kinnear may be the finest Hamlet I have ever seen. His clear love of the language and linguistic devices arises from his clear conception of the character and the situation. “I […]