Criticism

Criticism

I've had the pleasure to write for several different publications as a theatre critic. No matter the production I'm reviewing, I always think about the performance from other people's points of view, attempting to provide a rounded, nuanced opinion of the work, placed in the proper context.


Newcity Stage Chicago (Aug. 2015 – Nov. 2015)

From "Track 13 at Free Street Theatre"

"And yet, one last thing sticks out as wrong to me. The mere mention of the name "Sandra Bland" probably turned some people off to the show, since that makes it "political theatre." And those are the people who need to see it most. Most people who self-select to see "Track 13" probably already sympathize with the show’s message going in. So, with that in mind, I’m going to choose my words with extreme care in giving the following recommendation: If you’re looking for an easy, carefree evening at the theater, please go see "Track 13.""

Read the rest of the review here.

 

From "Funnyman at Northlight Theatre"

"Naturally, Chick’s past begins to catch up with him, and Wendt’s performance is well worth a viewing. But, tying back to comic constructions, the payoff isn’t as grand as one would expect. Say the play began with Chick wheeling out a large cake emblazoned with the words “do not fall into.” After plenty of antics around the cake, narrowly avoiding it, Chick trips and softly lands in it. It’s a payoff, yes—even the payoff we wanted—but wouldn’t there be more misery (and thus more comedy) if he went flying into the side of the cake, splattering frosting and crumbs all over the room?"

Read the rest of the review here.

 

"After all, this isn’t a play “about Katrina”—the title says as much. Narrating the stories of six people who Killebrew knew that faced the storm head on are Boo herself (the level-headed, talented Tuckie White) and her father (Joe Mack, exuding paternal concern). Boo’s father doesn’t fully understand the world of his own play—his daughter’s play, he asserts—and his attempts to explain and argue over how Boo is telling the story are the true crux of the narrative, and what makes the play feel so engagingly fresh in performance."

Read the rest of the review here.

From "The Play About My Dad at Northlight Theatre"


Scene + Heard (Oct. 2014 – May 2017)

"If Arts Alliance wants to produce a show like Heathers that exists for the purpose of bringing audiences to a collective climax off references to a popular film that they already know, who am I to object? As I said, the show succeeds perfectly at what it sets out to do. But to call this pandering to a specific kind of audience “accessible theatre” is false advertising on a fundamental level. Because when a production cares more about the audience members whose vision is clouded by nostalgia and singer-worship, rather than the audiences whose vision is so clouded by the production’s own fog machine that I honestly couldn’t see what Veronica had done in her closet in the show’s finale for a solid fifteen seconds until the smoke cleared – this is not a production that I can access."

Read the rest of the review here.*

From "Body Count: Arts Alliance's 'Heathers'"

 

"The conflicting opinions from Thyona and Olympia clash constantly, escalating into an all-out assault on each other’s opinions about men and love. But this is not without affecting each other: Olympia comes around to see where Thyona’s opinions may be accurate, and Thyona has a wonderful short monologue about the anger she feels at being unable to accept the situation as Olympia often does. The performances, from Loncto and Reininga, are spellbinding. Neither extreme is presented as the one-and-only correct answer in the fight between these conflicting opinions on love, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions right up until the play’s final, haunting monologue (which I wouldn’t dare spoil here). "

Read the rest of the review here.*

From "The Goddess Treatment: The Wirtz Center's 'Big Love'"


The Hanslick Girls (Jul. 2017 – Present)

"The Hanslick Girls consist of three women who discuss art together: Gwen, Eleanor, and Dania. Although their opinions on what they want out of art may differ, their conversations always tend to make for an entertaining read."

Such is the concept of the narrative-driven style of criticism I developed during my time writing for Scene+Heard: criticism written from the perspective of three different viewers, and formatted as a conversation between the trio. Each of the characters has their own distinct personality and artistic taste, making for volatile, informed, and sometimes comedic reviews. While they began as a tool for theatre criticism specifically, I started an independent blog for them after graduating, where they have branched into reviewing television, video games, architecture, albums, literature, and so many other subjects. The new Hanslick Girls reviews come out weekly, at 1pm CST. The full collection of the more than 50 reviews, from Northwestern to today, can be found at thehanslickgirls.com.


*reviews from Scene+Heard were removed from online due to a website crash, so they are linked to Google Docs on this page