Theatre-lovers in Chicago this weekend should beat a path to the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn Street. Playing there for only three more performances after tonight is the crazy-good modern/timeless drama, "Smokefall." Penned by 34-year old Detroit playwright Noah Haidle, it's the story of a family -- a few generations of a family -- in Grand Rapids, and the small triumphs and big travails of their daily lives.
It may not sound like much. But believe me, IT'S A LOT OF A PLAY. In a way, it's like Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" updated to 2013.
It would be a shame if you missed it.
And here's some great news: it's priced very reasonably. It seems that the folks at Goodman have realized that there's a lot of unemployed people out there (your blogger included) who could use a break at the box office. On Thursday night, my friend Violetta and I saw this marvelous play for the unheard-of price of $10 a ticket! Granted, there was a $2 fee for buying the tickets on-line, but still ... $12 a ticket for watching a top-notch dramatic production at one of the city's finest houses. Happy days are here again.
The acting is solid (and solid-plus) across the cast. To my mind, there were a couple of stand-outs, but I'm not even going to mention them. Who knows? You may see it and think the stand-outs were two other actors. This is what I think: You don't get to act in a show in Chicago unless you're good. Period. Especially in the downtown, top-notch houses. Hey, Chicago is the second most-important theatre town in the United States. We've got great actors here, and we use them.
All caveats aside, some of the acting in this show is amazing. Totally. (I don't know how people do this every night ... and twice on weekends.)
The play was written by Noah Haidle, a Princeton and Julliard grad who has lived in New York and L.A. but has now settled in the Midwest, where he's from. (He was raised in Grand Rapids.)The playwright Christopher Durang, a teacher of Haidle's at Princeton, said of him, after reviewing numerous submissions for a playwriting contest, that he alone had the imagination to be a successful playwright.
Keep your eyes and ears open for more work from the pen and keyboard and crazy-good mind of Noah Haidle. And hurry to the Goodman to see "Smokefall."
Final word or two: The play, for me, was not without issues. (I always have issues.) For example, during the proceedings, I would think, "Well, you're watching a play." There's a literary patina to some of the dialogue.
Nevertheless, this play did for me what all great drama, literature, and music does: it made me feel more alive.
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