Den Theatre’s “Four Places” is an emotionally complex slice of life

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Michael Brosilow. It’s been five years since the Den Theatre, Wicker Park’s popular home to numerous companies, produced a play of its own, but the drought is over. With Joel Drake Johnson’s Four Places, directed by Lia Mortensen, the theatre steps boldly back into […]

The thoughtful “Life on Paper” is marred by complicated set changes

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Joel Maisonet. How much is a human life worth? That question—and exactly how one could determine such a thing—lies at the center of Kenneth Lin’s new play Life on Paper, now playing at Jackalope Theatre in a production directed by Jackalope Artistic Director Gus […]

SIX tells the tales of Henry VIII’s wives in a pop-inspired, jubilant and joyful romp

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. I spent four decades as an English teacher. Each year, before the Shakespeare unit, I spent a day telling the story of Henry VIII; it wasn’t directly related but it was a part of the history that made the Elizabethan Age possible, […]

Organic’s “The Memo” is a well-staged trip into the absurd

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Anna Gelman. Organic Theater Company director Brian Wakefield and his talented team of actors must have had a wonderful time working with Czech playwright Vaclav Havel’s The Memo. Wakefield has created a production of so much visual absurdity that it almost dwarfs the absurdity […]

Lookingglass’s “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is a brilliant blend of story and storyteller.

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. This having been the 200th anniversary of the debut of the horror classic Frankenstein, we in Chicago have been treated in the past several months to several theatrical versions of the story. The fourth and final version is now onstage at Lookingglass […]

Northlight examines theatre, gender roles, and more in “Into the Breeches”

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Review by Karen Topham, American Theatre Critics Association member; photo by Liz Lauren. I generally am a big fan of plays that celebrate and/or deconstruct theatre itself, so I looked forward to seeing Northlight Theatre’s Into the Breeches, Park Ridge native George Brant’s comical exploration of a group of women trying to keep a local […]