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  Play Details

Fish Men

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

In Fish Men, a group of chess hustlers engage each other in spirited matches on a hot summer day in Washington Square Park, hoping to draw unsuspecting players into a high-stakes hustle. Their patience is soon rewarded by the appearance of Rey Reyes, a young student who naively agrees to their challenge. As the game progresses, the chess tables are turned—raising the stakes and revealing the traumatic circumstances that have made them seek refuge in a game that has become their obsession. esounding with biting humor and unexpected pathos, Fish Men focuses on a group of unforgettable characters drawn together by their need to overcome their individual tragedies.

Thru - May 6, 2012



Price: $12-$42

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

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  Fish Men Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Certainly, chess hustlers are a disparate international crew with, it's fair to say, uncommonly interesting biographies. But this play is just too overloaded with weighty geo-political metaphors and personal secrets for this little section of the park to credibly hold, especially since all these traumas seem to come crashing down at once. And whenever, early in a play about chess, a character announces to the world that he has decreed he will never play chess again, it's dollars to doughnuts that he'll be sitting down at the board before the end of the show. The only suspense is how we will get there."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"... In league with his strong cast, director Eddie Torres (who staged the hit show “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”), keeps the energy high and the sudden shifts from comedy to tragedy balanced. And set designer Collette Pollard has skillfully reconfigured the Goodman’s Owen Theatre into an in-the-square space with a chess area identical to the one that inspired Tirado’s play."
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The stakes don't take off until act two, and by then Tirado's chess-as-life metaphor is already wearing thin. Still, once the revenge theme solidifies in this Teatro Vista production directed by Edward Torres, it becomes easier to care."
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Dan Jakes


NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"... Playwright and chess master Cándido Tirado’s rumination on the brutality of human beings uses the chess board as a jumping-off point for covering a range of cruel behavior—from genocide to racism to unfair eviction—as three seasoned chess hustlers bicker and collude with each other while working to lure in challengers (referred to as fish) and take their money at the board."
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Zach Freeman


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Chess being a close-up activity—closer even than the perimeter seating in the Owen allows—it's up to the actors to keep us apprised of the battle's tide down to the smallest detail. A cast of seasoned players, featuring Raúl Castillo and Cedric Mays as the young champions, carries out its duties with practiced skill, but when the dust settles and the wounded are tallied, the hero who emerges to etch himself firmly in our memories is Howard Witt's Ninety-Two, whose every revelation heralds the reconciliation that Tirado benevolently bestows on his pilgrims."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"... “Fish Men” is a well done piece of theater, elevated by sharp, taut direction and three really fine performances. It is to the credit of director Edward Torres and his cast that an extremely complicated game, played at lightning speed, is made both engaging and suspenseful for the average audience member–some of whom, like myself, have only a neophytes’ understanding of chess and its subtleties."
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John Dalton


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...As long as there’s something important at stake, games can be fascinating to watch onstage, thanks to their built-in rules, shifting power dynamic, and clear winners and losers. In what initially feels like a stretch, Tirado connects the hustlers to humankind’s long, sorry history of preying on the innocent. Characters continually interrupt the game to deliver diatribes on genocide and dispossession—speeches that are well-written but don’t feel entirely relevant."
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Zac Thompson


Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...Still, for all its best qualities, “Fish Men” is a refreshing evening of theater. Director Edward Torres lends the show a human pace. It is by turns expansive, amusing, grinding. The chess matches – sometimes the pieces – fly. In the end, the grind and the hustle generate light and affirmation."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"... The smart cast featured outstanding performances by Raul Castillo as the hauntedGuatemalan with fine work from Howard Witt as the Holocaust survivor.We learn aboutchess,experiencethepsychology of hustling and we see the horrors of being a survivor ofgenocide.CandidoTiradois major talented playwright with a bright future. His Fish Men is a most engaging,funny yet poignant drama. Itis oneof the gems of the 2012 theatre season. Don’t miss this marvelous play. It’ll moved you."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...I think the intentions of the playwright are admirable, as he weaves stories of genocides into the day-to-day lives of this rag-tag team. Castillo makes an outstanding transition from innocent to avenger, and Howard Witt's exceptional turn as the oldest of the men is brilliant. Mays and Head do solid work, and Ricardo Gutierrez makes a fine Jerome (but are there no Native American actors in this town?). Mike Cherry's Russian is way over the top, as is Gordon Chow's doctor."

David Zak


Chicago Now - Recommended

"...Overall, FISH MEN is a powerful story that seems watered down. Tirado creates eight diverse characters. Although the United Nations effect is nice, a few of the characters are superfluous to the plot. Trying to work their dialogue into the action slows down the movement. It feels unnecessarily clunky especially in Act 1. Still, FISH MEN redeems itself with a solid second act that brought my audience to their feet in thunderous applause. When was the last time you saw that for a chess match?"
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... Directed to perfection by Edward Torres in the intimate Owen Theater, we truly feel that we are in the park as observers on this very special day. The theater is one that can be reshaped for each production and in this one, is arena style so we are viewing the action from all angles. The set by Collette Pollard is very realistic with Chess tables, benches, garbage cans, a working drinking fountain and of course walls made of shrubs. We feel as if we are in fact, peering over the shrubs and watching the action take place."
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Alan Bresloff


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.


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