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  Play Details

44 Plays for 44 Presidents

Neo-Futurists
5153 N. Ashland Avenue Chicago

44 Plays for 44 Presidents is a chronological, biographical survey of the lives and presidencies of each of the 44 men who have held the office so far. The 2012 production is a remount of one of the biggest prime-time blockbusters in Neo history, 43 Plays for 43 Presidents, originally produced in 2002. This year's incarnation comes with a shiny new cast, live musicians and video under the direction of Halena Kays, Artistic Director of The Hypocrites. In 44 Plays... mistakes and successes of our presidents are celebrated by a company of performers who take turns donning a star-spangled coat that symbolizes the presidency. Beginning with George Washington's almost Eden-like perfection, the scenes shift frequently between the comic and the tragic, from Ben Franklin giving Thomas Jefferson a Borscht Belt-style roast, to a polarized America in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama plays.

Thru - Nov 17, 2012



Price: $10-$20

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-275-5255

www.neofuturists.org



  44 Plays for 44 Presidents Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The deeper and more heartening observation one might take away is that the United States, both as a nation and as a concept, has endured despite any number of seemingly dire problems and much faulty commander-in-chiefing. That's saying something. And it puts the coming election in perspective, even if the show itself can seem too busy to acknowledge or embrace larger themes, let alone offer a cohesive point of view. Five credited writers will probably do that to a production (which has added and subtracted material in the past 10 years). For what it's worth, the complaints that arise here are the same that greeted earlier incarnations of the show."
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Nina Metz


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Five credited writers focus on creating emotive portraits of each leader, often succeeding best when obscurity offers them a blank canvas—in one of the show's funniest scenes, for instance, Millard Fillmore is played by a loaf of white bread. The Neo-Futurists tease out the surreal aspects of the country's highest office by supplying mundane, human details about the people who've held it."
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Keith Griffith


NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...In this second edition of the Neo-Futurists’ oddball living textbook, the history cram-session is jarring and unfamiliar to an audience exhausted from Barack and Mitt’s stump speeches proclaiming the sacred premise of retreating to a brighter past—be it Clintonian or Reaganian. Well, “44 Plays” says perhaps the past wasn’t so spotless, after all. Through the years, the United States has seen government-sanctioned genocides, periods of eighteen-percent unemployment, weapons sales to would-be enemies, a Civil War killing two-percent of the population, and a seemingly endless parade of other unthinkable atrocities. The hall of presidents is, more or less, a historical house of horrors. Yet somehow those bonkers Neo-Futurists pack their evening full of uproarious satire and, even more remarkably, resonating poignancy."
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Johnny Oleksinski


Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"... Director Helena Kays has fulfilled the ambitions of this show. Each scene sizzles as much as the last. The ever-changing narrative style ensures that you’ll never expect what’s coming next, no matter how much history you know. The audience interaction and casual tone give the sense that “we’re all in it together”, and that the audience could be playing an even more important role than the players."

Kristin Walters


Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"... Every four years, the American people come together to debate important issues, engage in democratic dialogue, and realize they agree on absolutely nothing. All they can agree on is the importance of who will be the next President. The Chief Executives, powerful and sometimes power-hungry men, are the subject of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, now playing at The Neo-Futurarium. Originally conceived in 2002 (with one less president, naturally), this “re-elected” piece chronicles the gentlemen who’ve sat in the Oval Office, presenting well-knowns such as Lincoln alongside lesser-knowns such as Fillmore."
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Zach Zimmerman


Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...As the presidents moved forward chronologically, the images used to supplement the stories progressed from crude portraits to photos to radio excerpts. Kennedy is the first president seen on television. There also were plenty of other props to go along with the choreographed dances and original music such as One Nixon, Underdog. Adding to the fun was that everything was accompanied by a fun and talented two person band. And the cast here was quick-witted and energetic enough to make it all work. All in all the evening was more entertaining than the Clinton presidency."
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Noel Schecter


Chicago Now - Highly Recommended

"...This is slick SNL buffoonery. One of my favorite sketches is Thomas Jefferson being completely annihilated by Benjamin Franklin in a roast-style game show. Hysterical! 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS is the perfect political diversion in these final days of election hoopla. The only speed bump I had with 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS had nothing to do with the play. It was the startling realization of how many one term Presidents there have been. Yikes! Sorry, Neo-Futurists, I'm not ready for a "45 Plays for 45 Presidents" before 2017."
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Katy Walsh


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Some of the plays are funny, some are tragic, some involve shadow puppets and one is a ballet. The cast soft-shoes, plays a jug band, skips rope and jitterbugs through American history, incorporating television footage, 19th century political campaign songs and two big signs that light up and say Direct Quote. And the Millard Fillmore play proves that bad presidents made the best plays."

Angeli Primlani



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