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Cherry Smoke
Cherry Smoke

Cherry Smoke
The Side Project
Thru - Dec 19, 2010

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The Side Project

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...Lavina Jadhwani's clean but gutsy staging for Side Project taps just about every vein possible, but this is a script without much of a pulse. Everything we need to know about Fish and Cherry's obsessive passion comes out in their first meeting, and subsequent revelations about Cherry's previous home life feel obvious. Oyloe and London-Shields deliver carefully calibrated and thoughtful performances that lift their characters beyond trailer-trash gothic parodies, but McManus doesn't flesh out the world of the play, leaving us with derivative hardscrabble working-class stereotypes who break into pseudo-lyrical meditations."
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Kerry Reid



Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...Lavina Jadhwani's staging for the Side Project has a compelling, powder-keg intensity, but the fireworks never materialize because McManus gets lost in long, repetitive passages of rough-hewn love poetry, forgetting he has a story to tell."
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Zac Thompson



NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...James McManus’ script combines the poetry of the everyday with the hardscrabble life of a working class without work. He hits a couple of clinkers when the language overwhelms the scenario, but still manages to create a gorgeous, imaginative world."
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Lisa Buscani



Time Out Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite some touch-and-go dialect coaching (which suggests a setting somewhere between Baltimore and eastern Ohio), Jadhwani and her crew make smart, elegant choices with the material. London-Shields delivers a staunch yet endearing turn in the no-frills role of Bug; Sally Weiss’s lights and Sarah Gilmore’s fantastical sound imbue the elegiac setting with a sense of magic. Jadhwani and movement director Michelle Milne elevate the script’s frequent fight scenes into something close to literal ballet. There’s gorgeous work afoot here, but not quite enough of it."
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Christopher Shea



Chicago Theater Beat- Somewhat Recommended

"...Cherry Smoke jumps around and needs a serious rewrite to produce a much tighter play. I doubt you could get a clearer wake up call about the impoverishment of America’s Rust Belt youth."

Paige Listerud



ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...Cherry Smoke is a love poem defined by brutality and physical and emotional scars. It gives us a glimpse into the underbelly of youth lost as the silent smoke stacks destroy blue collar America.  I view Cherry Smoke as a fable where frustration and pent-up rage can explode at anytime. Director Lavina Jadhwani has a fast-paced and emotionally intense drama that quickly engages us and holds us throughout. This is  worthy storefront theatre featuring four excellent performances proving, once again, that wonderful theatre is often found on little stages. McManus is a fine storyteller."
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Tom Williams



Chicago Stage Standard- Recommended

"...Director Lavina Jadhwani's up close and personal staging is about as intimate and visceral an experience as you will find in Chicago theatre, and her quartet of emotionally intense actors give an occasionally thrilling account of McManus' alternately heartfelt and disturbing vision.  Emily Shain's radiant and mystical Cherry is the perfect contrast to Dan Toot's primal machismo as Fish.  Peter Oyloe and Jessica London-Shields both bring enormous sensitivity to their characters of Dusty and Bug, respectively.  It's not a pleasant or comfortable play to watch, indeed the ending is such a downer the audience didn't knew whether to applaud, wince or cry.  I don't personally buy the all-consuming and unhealthy love theory McManus proposes, but the Side Project gives a gripping account of it nonetheless.  "Cherry Smoke" is brutal stuff.          "

Joe Stead



Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...Directed by  Lavina Jadhwani on a very intimate set designed by Sally Weiss ( who also did the lighting design), this is a quick moving 100 minutes. The storefron is not an easy place to build a set or do a play, but Jadhwani, brings these characters up close and personal and after all that is what one hopes for in a small intimate theater setting. We feel as if we are the “fly on the wall” peering into their lives, when they are teens, pre-teens and in the present. The flashbacks just happen and the words they say and the actions they do allow us to see their history- nothing fancy, just good theater."
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Alan Bresloff



Reviews You Can Iews- Recommended

"...Cherry Smoke is an honest work that some people will like. Some people will call it raw and emotional. Some people’s butts might fall asleep."
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Joe Tansino