2016 Ten-Word Summaries

  • Human Terrain (Broken Nose Theatre) – Military drama loses the audience until the stakes raise.
  • The Ben Hecht Show (Grippo Stage Company) – Famous screenwriter spins a warm, intellectual yarn.
  • The Divine Sister (Hell in a Handbag Productions) – Nuns fail to fascinate in a weak camp comedy.
  • World Builders (First Floor Theatre) – Isolated life, or the perils of human interaction? CHOOSE WISLEY.
  • Out of the Blue (Organic Theater Company) – Russian boy comes out and melodramatic predictability ensues.
  • Chicago Doo-Wop Dreams (MCL Chicago) – I’m still singing the main song to myself days later.
  • The Irish Curse (Level 11 Theatre) – Sir, can I interest you in some theatrical male enhancement?
  • Eurydice (BoHo Theatre) – New world discovered in the footnotes of a timeless story
  • The Seagull (The Artistic Home) – Intimate venue and strong ensemble work generate a haunting revival.
  • Once in a Lifetime (Strawdog Theatre Company) – Fitting end for old venue.  Well executed.  Fuffy, inane fun.
  • Twisted Knots (TTKD Productions) – Two (maybe?) strangers meet in a hotel room, evoking snores.
  • The Secretaries (About Face Theatre) – I can never unsee what happened between Dawn and Susan.
  • The Lion in Winter (Promethean Theatre Ensemble) – Classic play about politics and family shines with fresh energy.
  • Dreamgirls (Porchlight Music Theatre) – I can’t get the theme song out of my head!
  • The House of Blue Leaves (Raven Theatre) – Weak script does not stifle strong performances in revival.
  • A Splintered Soul (ARLA Productions) – Smart, sensitive direction and design work strengthen predictable story.
  • The Land of Never-Lack (Cave Painting Theater Company) – Don’t cross Irish faeries, they’ll punish you with lackluster theater.
  • In the Time of Butterflies (Teatro Vista) – Wonderful ensemble work a highlight of this poetic, political drama.
  • A Number (Runcible Theatre Company) – At sixty minutes this play is an hour too long.
  • The Women of Lockerbie (AstonRep Theatre Company) – Women in mourning attempt to heal after the Lockerbie disaster.
  • Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf Theatre) – A woman’s life; not the biggest revelation, but still beautiful.
  • Trash (New American Folk Theatre) – Entertaining performances and sharp direction cannot salvage a divided script.
  • The Misanthrope (Piccolo Theatre) – A Moliere translation for a new generation. This play matters.
  • Adding Machine: A Musical (The Hypocrites) – Man is victim of own inertia in a whirlwind world.
  • Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising) – Strong performances anchor this spirited debate with no easy answers.
  • The Life of Galileo (Remy Bumppo) – An ignorant populace helps the powerful maintain control throughout history.
  • Dreams of the Penny Gods (Halcyon Theatre) – Clunky writing hampers script that aims to be something more.
  • Broken Record: A Contemporary Musical (Stage 773) – This musical from hilarious Chicago improvisers packs an emotional wallop.
  • How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients (Trap Door Theatre) – Off kilter reds do things. I hunger for an explanation.
  • The Edge of Our Bodies (TUTA Theatre Chicago) – Precocious teenage schoolgirl emerges from high stakes situations rather unscathed.
  • Rent (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) – Play and venue meld together perfectly in this intimate production.
  • Mary Poppins (NightBlue Performing Arts Company) – Chimney sweep steals the show, but we really don’t mind.
  • Rolling (Jackalope Theatre) – Home: where family judges you in your hour of need.
  • Muse of Fire (Genesis Theatrical Productions) – How important is comedy? It’s a life or death issue.
  • The Explorers Club (Windy City Playhouse) – Silliness perpetrated by inept gentlemen scientists and one skillful woman.
  • The Old Friends (Raven Theatre) – Family Feuds? Money Squabbles? Torrid Affairs? Everything’s bigger in Texas.
  • The Drawer Boy (Redtwist Theatre) – We each live in a myth of memory.  But whose?
  • Sparky! (Lifeline Theatre) – A slow moving thing. Also, a play about a sloth.
  • The Consultant (Signal Ensemble Theatre) – Signal Ensemble ends not with a bang, but a whimper
  • Byhalia, Mississippi (The New Colony & Definition Theatre) – How, when, and why do you choose to forgive someone?
  • London Wall (Griffin Theatre) – Leisurely day at the office could pick up the pace.
  • The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today  (City Lit Theater) – Gilded Age, while beautiful, suffers under its own sparkly paint.
  • Tail Eats Snake: Part Deux (The Side Project) – Sixteen plays celebrate 16 years of similarly solid new works.