Tag: Joe Dempsey

Review: The Rembrandt (Steppenwolf Theatre)

John Mahoney stars as Homer in The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf Theatre            
      

   

The Rembrandt

Written by Jessica Dickey 
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted (map)
thru Nov 11  |  tix: $20-$104  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

September 30, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Ah, Wilderness! (Goodman Theatre)

Niall Cunningham and Ayssette Muñoz star as Richard and Muriel in Ah Wilderness, Goodman Theatre           
      

Ah, Wilderness!

Written by Eugene O’Neill   
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru July 23  |  tix: $20-$75  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

July 2, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Twist Your Dickens (Second City at Goodman Theatre, 2016)

Joe Dempsey stars in Twist Your Dickens, Second City at Goodman Theatre 2016           
      
  

Twist Your Dickens

Written by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tix: $25-$47  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
     

December 22, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: life sucks. (Lookingglass Theatre)

Danielle Zuckerman and Penelope Walker as Sonia and Pickles in life sucks, Lookingglass           
      
   

life sucks.

Written by Aaron Posner
Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan (map)
thru Nov 6  |  tix: $45-$65  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

September 21, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: West Side Story (Paramount Theatre)

It’s the classic tale of the Sharks versus the Jets in West Side Story, one of the greatest musicals ever, playing March 16-April 24, 2016 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. For tickets and information, go to ParamountAurora.com or call (630) 896-6666. Photo credit: Liz Lauren.          
      
  

West Side Story

Written by Leonard Bernstein (music),
  Stephen Sondheim (lyrics), Arthur Laurents (book)
Paramount Theatre, Aurora, IL  (map)
thru Apr 24  |  tix: $41-$56  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   

March 21, 2016 | 2 Comments More

Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Theatre)

Jordan DeLeon and Frances Limoncelli star in Drury Lane Theatre's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, directed by Scott Calcagno. (photo credit: Brett Beiner)        
      
The 25th Annual 
Putnam County Spelling Bee

Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Directed and Choreographed by Scott Calcagno
at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace (map)
thru Aug 17  |  tickets: $40-$50   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

July 11, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (The Neo-Futurists)

Dina Walters stars in The Neo-Futurists' "44 Plays for 44 Presidents", directed by Halena Kays. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)       
      
44 Plays for 44 Presidents 

Directed by Halena Kays 
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Nov 10  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
            Read entire review
     

October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Boys Room (Victory Gardens Theater)

  
  

Victory Gardens creates powerful portrait of family paralysis

  
  

Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus in Victory Gardens 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren.

  
Victory Gardens Theater presents
   
The Boys Room
  
Written by Joel Drake Johnson
Directed by Sandy Shinner
at Victory Garden’s Biograph Theater, 4233 N. Lincoln (map)
through Feb 20  |  tickets: $35-$50  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Because the recession has foreclosed so many homes, a lot of “boomerang kids” have returned to the nest–to the confusion of parents who thought they’d seen the last of them. It’s even more poignant if, 30 years after they supposedly left home, two middle-aged guys have returned to the sender, so to speak. That’s the bittersweet case in The Boys Room, Joel Drake Johnson’s moving portrait of two stunted sons and their arrested development.

Steve Key and Joe Dempsey in 'The Boys Room' at Victory Gardens. Photo by Liz Lauren.A Victory Gardens Theater world premiere richly staged by Sandy Shinner, this 90-minute slice of loss exposes the longings of two brothers’ midlife crises. Then there are the women—a mother and a son’s daughter—who contend with the brothers’ dangerous nostalgia (or regression) for their safe, secure upstairs bedroom.

Sibling rivalry is only one of the reversions that become blasts from the past. Jobless and in a troubled marriage, Tim (Steve Key) is now curled up in his childhood bed by the window: There he reads “Jane Eyre” to help his daughter in her English class, then cries himself to sleep each night. To his rage, he’s soon joined by his older brother Ron (Joe Dempsey), a grizzled dentist who left his wife and daughter because he couldn’t deal with the former’s breast cancer. (You hear “This is MY room!” a lot here.)

The brothers’ “odd couple” obviously disrupt the peaceful life of their aging mother Susan (Mary Ann Thebus), who just wants to learn Spanish so she can enjoy her elderly Latino lover all the more. Her well-earned retirement has been disrupted by all the unpacked emotional baggage her “boys” have brought home along with a lot of laundry she refuses to do. (She compares Tim’s restlessness upstairs to having “a rat rustling in the room.”)

Enraged at her father’s desertion, Ron’s teenage daughter Roann (Allison Torem) has been sent by her mom to find out Ron’s plans for any future they can forge. It’s up to her grandmother to give 16-year-old Roann the strength to endure what her sons have yet to master. In her final speech she remembers how the death of their father almost destroyed the family but, if they got through that, then…

             
Steve Key, Mary Ann Thebus and Joe Dempsey in 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren. Allison Torem and Mary Ann Thebus in Victory Gardens 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson. Photo by Liz Lauren.

This is not your usual dysfunctional-family dark comedy where sitcom crises mount with the laugh track, only to have recriminations replaced by reconciliation. Johnson has a great ear for loud desperation and the self-sustaining logic of failure and the pitilessness of pity. There are no happy resolutions here, just simple survival. That makes this play far kinder to its audience’s collective intelligence than all the wishful thinking that makes for second-act hugs and unearned happy endings.

Shinner’s staging is equally grown-up. There’s obvious humor in two loser husbands turning back into whining boys, reenacting old games that made them feel safer and wanting mommy to make everything right. But Key’s Tim is far too damaged to be healed by memory-mongering, while Dempsey’s explosive Ron is paralyzed with self-loathing.

Forward facing where the men are sinking into a bogus boyhood, the women are far stronger souls. Thebus’ tough-loving Susan is a rich mix of resilience and resignation, unwilling to indulge this second childhood one second more than she needs to. Equally remarkable, Torem’s anguished adolescent conjures up all the collateral damage of broken homes and makes it as specific as a scream.

  
  
Rating: ★★★★
  
  

Steve Key and Joe Dempsey in Victory Garden's 'The Boys Room' by Joel Drake Johnson.  Photo by Liz Lauren.

February 2, 2011 | 0 Comments More