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  The Assembled Parties Reviews
The Assembled Parties
Raven Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...In structure, "The Assembled Parties" is similar to Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain," in which two generations of a family are depicted several years apart. That play used the device of showing first the grown children, and then the same actors playing the parents decades earlier. This play is more straightforward, with only one actor playing two different characters across the linear span of years."
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Kerry Reid



Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...While Greenberg's smart and musical language delights throughout, a greater focus on character development would make for a more impactful landing."
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Marissa Oberlander



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...On a stage as wide as that in Raven Theatre's auditorium, the vast expanses of physical space could present difficulties, not only in the assembly of a suitably furnished stage picture, but for actors tasked with forging connections visible to audiences struggling to keep their attention focused. Fortunately, the ensemble, under the direction of Cody Estle, has delved beyond the scripted information to construct backstories for their personae so specific that we easily guess-assisted by our hindsight, of course-the unseen events occurring in the intervening two decades."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Stage and Cinema- Somewhat Recommended

"...Tolstoy declared that unhappy families are all different in their miseries. But not all differences are equal in impact or worth. Estle sets a too-stately pace for this “tale of two sons,” an unedifying exposé that perversely emphasizes how little is at stake. The sardonically O’Henry-like payoff notwithstanding, The Assembled Parties is doggedly detailed given its generic characters and, at each act’s end, too sentimental for its unearned emotions. The Bascovs and Rappaports keep up appearances all too well."
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Lawrence Bommer



Splash Magazine- Highly Recommended

"...Tautly directed by Cody Este with terrific stage crafting by Jeffrey D. Kmiec, especially well collected costumes by Theresa Ham, subtle lighting by Nick Belley, and with original music and sound design by Eric Backus, the play takes place in a commodious apartment on Central Park West in 2 scenes on 2 Christmas days 20 years apart. This performance features a more than capable group of actors"
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Debra Davy



ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...This is a well acted and smartly directed work by Cody Estle that features terrific performance by the two grand dames: Loretta Rezos as Julies and JoAnn Montemurro as Faye.These two opposites like one another and anchor the work effectively."
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Tom Williams



Around The Town Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...The set being fantastic, the playwright being one that I have enjoyed, the director (Cody Estle) who has always done a remarkable job, and then, the story of the Bascov family celebrating "Christmas" on two different Christmas Days, 20 years apart. This is a Jewish family, celebrating a holiday that represents anything but Jewish (tree and all). In the first act, which takes place in 1980, it seems as though Julie (Loretta Rezos shines in both of her portrayals, young and old) may be gentile and has married into a Jewish family. However, in the second act, 2000, they make mention that she is, and has always been Jewish. Confusing? I know there are Jewish families who celebrate the holiday and perhaps a few that do have a tree, but, in Greenberg's dialogue there is so mention about being Jewish, as well as many "Yiddish" terms used (without explanation), that many audience members found themselves laughing at things that were not even close to being funny. I think they felt Yiddish is always funny."
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Alan Bresloff



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Raven’s top-notch acting ensemble—especially the impeccable JoAnn Montemurro as the caustic Aunt Faye—is wasted on this static, navel-gazing tale. Director Cody Estle milks the laugh lines of the contrived script but can do only so much with a work featuring nine glib characters and not one fleshed-out human being."
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Hugh Iglarsh



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...And Raven’s exquisite cast, expertly directed by Cody Estle, brings everything into focus. Plowing through Greenberg’s elaborate dialogue with rich aplomb, it is an absolute delight watching these performers on stage, from Christopher Peltier’s nervous Jeff, to Marika Mashburn’s hysterical Shelley, to JoAnn Montemurro’s Faye; indeed, Montemurro, who is Raven’s co-artistic director, will be a familiar face to any fan of the company’s work, and her wit and intensity is among Chicago theater’s finest pleasures."
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Peter Thomas Ricci



The Fourth Walsh- Recommended

"...THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES is a two toned piece. Initially, it's this chaotic, dysfunctional, whiny family struggling in unhappiness. Twenty years changes everything and everyone. The return visit to this family on Christmas Day 2000 is much more poignant and satisfying. They still have problems but they also have each other. The underlying compassion between this makeshift family extends out to the audience. It takes a second visit to this home to make us care. I wasn't able to invest in the 80s but I was all in for the 2000 family."
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Katy Walsh



Irish American News- Highly Recommended

"...Joann Montemurro (Faye) splendidly performs her role as sister-in-law and mother with the sensibility of a true cynic. She is pragmatic, caring and indifferent. Montemurro is a joy to watch. She carries the role of Faye with real conviction and catches the Jewish mother as the dispenser of guilt and punishment with wry humour. Greenberg’s play is an experience. You leave it wanting more. While he develops his characters, without giving away too much information, they remain a mystery to us."
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Terence Boyle



Third Coast Review- Somewhat Recommended

"...Throughout The Assembled Parties, jokes are made of then-presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. In the moment, characters in this upper class Jewish family cannot believe their fate to live at a time when such “idiots” have been elected president. Performed in 2017, such conversations take on new light. “I’m starting to get nostalgic for his father,” Faye says of Bush in 2000. While some in the audience opening night laughed, others seemed more uncomfortable than amused. How many of us would prefer Reagan or Bush to our current administration? And what would have to happen in the next 20 years for us to look back nostalgically to a country led by Donald Trump?"
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Brent Eickhoff