Title and Deed Chicago: A Review

Title and Deed Chicago:  A Review
Michael Patrick Thornton in "Title and Deed." Photo: Liz Lauren.

Can something be both haunting and fiercely funny?

Pulitzer prize wining, author and playwright Will Eno’s “Title and Deed” which is making its Midwest premiere at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre has been called both haunting and fiercely funny.  Strangely enough that’s a pretty accurate description.

Eno hammers away at the big questions–asking, “what’s it all about” without really putting it into those words.  The play, a meditation on life, adds humor to the probing Beckett-like questions that populate its 65-minute run.

The one-man show features Michael Patrick Thornton, Co-founding Artistic Director of The Gift Theatre and somewhat of an Eno devotee–having appeared in Will Eno’s Middletown at Steppenwolf, directing Eno’s “Oh, the Humanity” at Gift and showing up– in Eno’s “Brief Study of An Endless Thing”–as the nameless Traveler.

Thornton arrives on the bare stage via a wheelchair climbing a small hill at the back of the stage to stage center–from where–we don’t know and never find out.

Dan Ostling’s bare-bones set–an empty wooden stage–except for the actor and his baggage (both internal and external) is perfect for subject matter of the monologue.

The actor’s sincerity and vulnerability as he begins his dialogue–seemingly speaking to each of us directly–asking us not to hate him makes us like him and want to hear what he says.

The playwright, Eno has a way with words and Thornton knows how to interpret and deliver them. The actor’s unhurried delivery punctuated with pauses brings out Eno’s intended humor in what could otherwise be humorless and depressing mutterings.

Marti Lyons, a rising star in the world of directing, with impressive credentials including work at Goodman and Steppenwolf, stages the play just as it should be–simply and effectively.

In a conversion with Eno, the playwright explains the show’s title and its significance saying “this state of having a stable and documented connection to a place is something the character in the play is searching for and trying to define.”

The plays’ title, “Title and Deed” points to the space we occupy on earth that we call home while we are here–from the joy at birth to the whimper at the end of life.

A sad summation yet, we find ourselves laughing as Thornton tells us “you are and will always be, away from home, not at home. Not homeless, per se, necessarily, but, un-homed.”

Who will want to see this play?

Eno’s play will appeal to a diverse collection of thoughtful theater-goers especially those familiar with Eno’s work.  For those who prefer lighter fare or are expecting a Lookingglass Alice experience–as in the recent Lookingglass run– (which was excellent)– be forewarned, this is different.

Tickets and information…

Location: Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago’s historic Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. (at Pearson).
Tickets: $40 – $60, online or by phone at (312) 337-0665.
Running Time: 65-minutes.
Rating: ★★★ (Out of 4 stars)
Run: now through May 3, 2015.



With the play running a fast-paced 65-minutes, dinner is an easy option for either side of the show. We dined at the nearby Bar Toma (110 E Pearson St,) where, if you mention that you have tickets for that evenings’ performance, you will receive a complimentary appetizer for your table along with your dinner. Known for their woodfired pizza creations–you may want to check out their new Tony Calzony Pizza Dough Sandwich (pictured above) available in three versions at $11, each.

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