Tag: Jessica Blank

Review: How to Be a Rock Critic (Steppenwolf Theatre)

Erik Jensen stars as Lester Bangs in How to Be a Rock Critic, Steppenwolf Theatre 4            
         

How To Be
  a Rock Critic

 
By Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted (map)
thru July 29  |  tix: $30  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

July 12, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Exonerated (Next Theatre & NU’s Theatre and Interpretation Center)

Michael Henry stars in Next Theatre and Theatre and Interpretation Center's "The Exonerated" by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, directed by Cat Miller.  (photo credit: Justin Barbin)        
       
The Exonerated 

Written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen
Directed by Cat Miller
at Northwestern University, Evanston (map)
thru May 5  |  tickets: $10-$25   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review 
     

April 25, 2013 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Exonerated (La Costa Theatre)

Grueling In storytelling, “The Exonerated” lacks dramatic structure

exonerated

La Costa Theatre presents:

The Exonerated

 

by Jessica Blank and Erik Jenson
directed by Sonia Alexandria
Thru February 7th (ticket info)

review by Paige Listerud

The vibe created by La Costa Theatre’s The Exonerated feels downright 60s-radical–whether it be in the relaying of 6 true cases of wrongly accused men and women from the late 60s and early 70s, or the soft, plaintive guitar performance in the darkened theater space before the show begins. The language used by the wrongly accused/proven innocent reflects the Boomer generation and their perspective on violent, endemic racism and homophobia. Their voices, as performed by cast, ring authentically but that same period element distances the storytelling from the audience.

It relinquishes this play to being a thing of the past, even though it was only just produced in the first years of this century; even though the gross gaps in our justice system still haven’t been rectified.

lacosta But more than an old hippy feeling compounds the challenge of revitalizing these stories and making their pain immediate. Unfortunately, The Exonerated, which stirred some of New York’s biggest stars to perform in it, which was made into a movie with Aidan Quinn and Susan Sarandon, and was presented to Gov. George Ryan as he pondered a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, sorely lacks critical dramatic structure to make it an enduring work of theater.

Sonia Alexandria strives to keep the direction clean and simple; the minimalism of the barest of sets and strategically crafted lighting creates the right ascetic tone for the production. The effort to craft each story with the actors’ voices and bodies alone is the right move. The trouble is stories exposing some of the grossest injustices inherent in our legal system—stories which should raise hackles on the audience’s heads–get lost in a spliced-up jumble that contains no dramatic arc and raises no stakes. Impact gets lost just where one needs and wants and longs for impact.

Such a deep structural failing cannot be redeemed by the unaffected and earnest performances of a capable cast. That’s too bad, because some manage to achieve deeper resonance than just outrage at what has been done to them. Cliff Ingram’s Delbert Tibs and Theresa Ohanian’s earthy young hippy Sunny remain in the mind long after the lights come up.

For anyone who thinks law enforcement plays out just like the cop shows on TV, The Exonerated will act as an all-too–necessary antidote. For those long familiar with the arbitrary nature of our justice system and the tenuousness of everyday freedom, at the very best The Exonerated will come across as just another day in racist, classist, homophobic America.

Rating: ★★

January 21, 2010 | 0 Comments More