Theater Reviews

Review: “Mary Page Marlowe”

Review: “Mary Page Marlowe”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June 5 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the first scene of the world premiere of Tracy Letts’ “Mary Page Marlowe” at Steppenwolf Theatre, the title character , age 40 (Rebecca Spence), sits in a booth at a diner explaining to(…)

Review: “The Life of Galileo”

Review: “The Life of Galileo”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through May 1 Tickets: $42.50-$52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Often called “the father of science,” Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a brilliant Renaissance astronomer, physicist, mathematician, engineer, inventor and thinker. In Remy Bumppo’s production of Bertolt(…)

Review: “The Flick”

Review: “The Flick”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through May 8 Tickets: $20-$89 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Flick” is about nothing and everything. Simultaneously. Set in a rundown, single-screen movie theater in Worcester County, Massachusetts in the present, the play brings together three underpaid,(…)

Review: “Hillary and Clinton”

Review: “Hillary and Clinton”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through May 1 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” which is having its world premiere at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, asks us to imagine an alternate universe—one of an infinite number of universes, some of(…)

Review: “Carlyle”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through May 1 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Political parlor games seem to be proliferating in an election season where reality often is stranger than fiction. While “Hillary and Clinton” at Victory Gardens Theater postulates an alternate universe populated by(…)

Review: “Richard III”

Review: “Richard III”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Gift Theatre at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted St. When: through May 1 Tickets: $30-$40 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You’ve never seen a Richard III like Michael Patrick Thornton. The actor, who uses a wheelchair because of two spinal strokes in 2003, not only turns his disability into a(…)

Review: “Arcadia”

Review: “Arcadia”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe When: through May 1 Tickets: $35-$80 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic A friend who has never seen Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” asked me what it is about and, although the 1993 play is one of my favorites, I had a hard time explaining. Besides setting the(…)

Review: “Matilda the  Musical”

Review: “Matilda the Musical”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through April 10 Tickets: $24-$123 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You don’t have to be a preteen, an indulgent parent or a diehard fan of Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to enjoy “Matilda the Musical” at the Oriental(…)

Review: “Blood Wedding”

Review: “Blood Wedding”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company, Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through April 24 Tickets: $40-$75 Phone: 312-337-0665 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Lust, longing, and revenge drive Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1933 “Blood Wedding,” yet Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of this powerful, poetic play is surprisingly flat. Daniel Ostling has designed(…)

Review: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Review: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 10 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Of all the production I’ve seen of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” a play so personal Eugene O’Neill didn’t want it ever to be produced (and stipulated it shouldn’t be published until 25 years(…)

Review: “Butler”

Review: “Butler”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 17 Tickets: $25-$79 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “Butler” is set in the commander’s office at Fort Monroe, Virginia, in the first month of the Civil War, but Richard Strand’s play has the same appeal(…)

Review: “The  Matchmaker”

Review: “The Matchmaker”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 10 Tickets: $25-$82 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Don’t go to “The Matchmaker” expecting “Hello, Dolly!,” the beloved 1964 musical based on Thornton Wilder’s 1954 play. You’ll miss the songs and be less likely to appreciate the wit and wisdom(…)

Review: “Othello”

Review: “Othello”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through April 10 Tickets: $48-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rarely has a modern-dress production done more to clarify the relevance of one of Shakespeare’s plays than U.K. Director Jonathan Munby’s staging of “Othello” for Chicago Shakespeare Theater as part of the year-long Shakespeare 400(…)

Review: “Sunset Baby”

Review: “Sunset Baby”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through Apr. 10 Tickets: $38-$51 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rage and the need for retribution drive Nina, the central character in Dominique Morisseau’s “Sunset Baby,” and in AnJi White’s stunning, unstinting, unsentimental performance, her determination comes through loud and clear. But White(…)

Review: “Cocked”

Review: “Cocked”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through March 13 Tickets: $15-$60 Phone: 773-871-3000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I hated “The Honeymooners.” While lots of people thought the popular 1950s television show was hilarious, I found Ralph Kramden, the bus driver played by Jackie Gleason, so loud and obnoxious,(…)

Review: “2666”

Review: “2666”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through March 20 Tickets: $20-$45 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The Goodman Theatre world premiere of “2666,” the late Chilean poet Roberto Bolaño’s massive 900-page novel adapted and directed for the stage by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley, is one of those(…)

Review: “Bye Bye Birdie”

Review: “Bye Bye Birdie”

RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through March 13 Tickets: $45-$60 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I haven’t seen “Bye Bye Birdie” in many years and could easily go without seeing it again for many more. First produced on Broadway in 1960, the Michael Stewart (book), Charles Strouse(…)

Review: “If/Then”

Review: “If/Then”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through March 6 Tickets: $25-$98 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The national tour of the Broadway musical “If/Then,” at the Oriental Theatre for a brief run, boasts an interesting concept and strong credentials, but it’s disappointing for a variety of reasons. The show(…)

Review: “The Mutilated”

Review: “The Mutilated”

RECOMMENDED Where: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through March 13 Tickets: $30-$35 Phone: 312-943-8722 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic You can be forgiven if you never heard of Tenessee Williams’ “The Mutilated,” much less seen it. Premiering in 1966 with “The Gnädiges Fräulein” on a double bill dubbed “Slapstick Tragedy,” it(…)

Review: “Far From Heaven”

Review: “Far From Heaven”

RECOMMENDED Where: Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through March 13 Tickets: $39-$48 Phone: 773-327-5252 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Turning movies into stage musicals is a popular pastime, but it really serves a purpose only if the result improves on—or at least illuminates—the original. Alas, Scott Frankel (music) and(…)