Chicago Theater Winter 2011: Shattered Globe Theatre is Alive and Well With the Beauty Queen of Leenane.

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Linda Reiter (Mag) and Eileen Niccolai (Maureen) star in Shattered Globe Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane running through February 27, 2011, at the Athenaeum Theatre, Studio 2. Photo Credit: Kevin Viol

Chicago, Tuesday, January 18, 2011. The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which opened Sunday at the Athenaeum Theatre, is no Miss America.  She is a plain 40ish Irishwoman, who along with her controlling mother share the space in a bleak desolate cottage in the small Irish village of Leenane, Connemara .

The play, written in 1996 by then 27-year-old Martin McDonagh, was originally presented in in Galway in Ireland.  It continues to be extensively performed–winning accolades in London,  a Tony in NY, and a Jeff nomination for Laurie Metcalf in the 1999 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

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Joseph Wiens (Pato) and Eileen Niccolai (Maureen) star in Shattered Globe Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Photo Credit: Kevin Viol

The Shattered Globe production is not just a revival for Beauty Queen, it is a revival of sorts for the highly respected 19 year-old theater that hit a wall in September of 2010, announcing its closing.  But, alas, due to a lot of passion, effort and determination the theater is back with some old members and some new members– along with, the man with a plan, Roger Smart, who saved the theater and is now its artistic director.

Shattered Globe lives up to its past reputation with some of the best theater the city has to offer with their current production of the Beauty Queen of Leenane.  Any theater affectionado will want to make sure to catch this show.

The beloved Shattered Globe Ensemble members Linda Reiter (Mag), Eileen Niccolai (Maureen) and Kevin Viol (Ray) with guest artist Joe Wiens as Pato star in the four-person Beauty Queen that has been aptly described as black comedy, twisted, brutal, dark and dysfunctional.

McDonagh’s playwriting style has been compared to the Irish playwright J.M. Synge (The Playboy of the Western World and others).  Both men write intense and poetic works that depict bleak and tragic lives.  In Beauty Queen, a verbal game of chess and one-upmanship takes place between a seemly fragile but iron-willed elderly mother and her trapped daughter.  The barbs between the two are biting, and dysfunctionally comical.  The daughter, embittered by 20 years of taking care of her mother, displays a brash exterior with an underlying vulnerability. The mother, rocking in her rocking chair demands, derides and complains incessantly to her daughter.

A ray of hope enters the daughter’s life when she reconnects with a shy but sincere man from her past, Joe Wiens as Pato.  Daughter, Maureen, visualizes a chance to escape but “monster mom”, Mag has other plans.  The explosive mental combat unleashes a series of increasingly shocking events.

Performance Schedule.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8p.m. and Sundays at 3p.m. Through February 27, 2011.

Tickets.
Tickets are $32 for Friday and Saturday evening performances, $27 for Sunday matinees and $25 for Thursday performances.  Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com and at 800 982 2787 or in person at the Athenaeum box office at 2936 N. Southport–open Tuesday through Friday from 3p.m. through 7p.m.

The Athenaeum Theatre.
Athenaeum Theatre is located 2936 N. Southport. Directions: The closest “L” stop is the Brown Line at Wellington Ave. Then walk 4 blocks west to Southport. Turn left on Southport and go to 2936 N. Southport. By car, The Athenaeum is at the junction of Southport, Oakdale and Lincoln Avenues. There is a small parking lot behind the theatre, which is shared with St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Enter this parking lot on Oakdale Street. There is a second parking lot on the corner of Southport Ave. and Oakdale St. Enter this parking lot on Southport Ave. Both lots operate a “Pay and Display” system.

About Shattered Globe Theatre.
Shattered Globe Theatre’s mission is to bring global theater home to Chicago. Shattered Globe Theatre seeks to inspire social discourse by raising questions rather than espousing philosophy; to stimulate artistic growth and broaden the perspectives of both the artist and the audience. To this end, Shattered Globe Theatre enriches its ensemble by absorbing and nurturing diverse emerging theatrical talent; engaging its audiences by means of challenging and inventive interaction; and bringing audiences dynamic re-imaginings of classic works and premiere productions that celebrate new voices and innovative viewpoints.

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