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  A Parallelogram at Steppenwolf Theatre

A Parallelogram

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

If you knew your fate—would you accept it? Or try to change it? Bee is a young woman who believes she has an uncanny ability to see the future, and maybe even alter it. From the playwright and Tony Award-winning director who brought you The Unmentionables and The Pain and the Itch comes this dark, funny world premiere about a woman bent on reinventing her own destiny—and possibly the world.

Thru - Aug 29, 2010

Price: $20-$70

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 2hrs 15 mins: one intermission

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  A Parallelogram Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Few people can write a fight — a knock-down, drag-out domestic evisceration between over-articulate lovers or spouses — like Bruce Norris, a playwright who no sooner creates a loving relationship than he wants to smash its smug self to bits. And it only takes about 30 seconds of "A Parallelogram," Norris' latest play premiering at the Steppenwolf Theatre, for any longtime student of Norris' suite of disrupted domestic works to sense that the unstable couple whose apartment we're visiting is headed for the rocks."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Judging from the string of witty, biting, profoundly pessimistic plays Bruce Norris has written over the past decade or so, it would seem he's still the charming misanthrope I knew during my undergrad days at Northwestern 25 years ago. But now his audience isn't limited to a smarty-pants coterie cracking up as he waxes fractious over coffee in an Evanston greasy spoon. Since The Infidel in 2000, Norris's plays have appeared regularly on Steppenwolf Theatre's main stage, and his recent off-Broadway hit, Clybourne Park, will open the fall season at the Royal Court in London. Screw the power of positive thinking—Norris has found success staying true to his inner crank."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Under Tony Award-winning director Anna D. Shapiro, A Parallelogram is sharply acted, especially by Tom Irwin as Jay, whose convincing throw-away naturalism and brisk cue pick-ups propel the performance, even in quiet moments. As Bee 2, Marylouise Burke has excellent comic instincts, but simply isn't loud enough in the spotty acoustics of the 500-seat theatre. Kate Arrington, slowly melting down before us, and Tim Bickel complete the cast, respectively, as Bee and JJ, a Latino gardener and Bee's lover after Jay. The play's three locations are given an austere ( large rooms with little furniture ) beige treatment by designer Todd Rosenthal, who accomplishes surprise instant set changes via revolving platforms and trapdoors."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Talkin Broadway - Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Anna D. Shapiro and the cast nail the tone of Norris' writing quite handily. His darkly comic and cynical take on his characters is delivered by the performers so effectively that the audience scarcely has time to worry that not a whole lot is being said here. If life is largely about the choices we make, and if we struggle to make the right (or at least reasonably smart) ones, is it comforting or disturbing to be told those choices don't matter as much as we believe they do? It's a good question and while Norris comes down on the side of predestination, he doesn't make an especially great case for it."
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John Olson

Copley News Service - Highly Recommended

"...A Parallelogram” takes the “less is more” approach. Norris doesn’t force feed a lot of philosophical pseudo profundities into his time travel narrative. If there is a moral to the story, it’s that life goes on and probably it’s better that way. Not a very dramatic conclusion, perhaps, but there is enough humor and fantasy and humanity in the play to keep the thoughtful observer’s mind continuously engaged, and entertained."

Dan Zeff

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...What makes A Parallelogram more than just an entertaining diversion, though it surely is that, is that every element of the show – from the exquisite set design to the immense performances to the tight script – all work together without overshadowing each other. Norris has bestowed his characters with enough personality to come to life and the superb cast (particularly the riveting Tom Irwin) knows just how to take their words to the next level. When your anti-theatre friends tell you that theatre is boring, point them in the direction of A Parallelogram."

Zach Freeman

Chicago Stage Review - Highly Recommended

"...A Parallelogram will lull you in with the familiar and then propel you to the unimaginable. You will be hard pressed to find a more thought provoking or more entertaining theatrical experience than this ingeniously resplendent production. Dramatically innovative, emotionally exhilarating and psychologically spellbinding, A Parallelogram is as good as theater gets."
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Venus Zarris

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"... Future Bee is here to tell her past self about a major disaster looming in the near future—but also that there’s nothing to be done about it. There’s no escaping fate. For all of present Bee’s protests, however, she doesn’t really take any action; this is a script whose protagonist just lets things happen to her. And there’s no apparent reason for future Bee to have traveled back. Still, Shapiro coaxes fine acting from her small ensemble, and Burke kills in Norris’s direct-address monologues. Those expecting the heft of The Pain and the Itch or The Unmentionables will find a slighter, more introspective work, but it’s by no means a waste of time."
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Kris Vire

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The play itself soars, with never a dull moment. Plot threads offer unending provocative parallels that make a perfect springboard for discussion. Steppenwolf provides this opportunity with post-show sessions following each performance. They are well worth attending."
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Beverly Friend

Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...Anna Shapiro’s staging works fairly well to keep the cuteness in check. But there’s an unavoidable hip complacency to the playwright’s presumed omniscience (and lack of compassion) for these fallible mortals who are too stupid, it seems, to know what comes next. You see it most in Mary Louise Burke’s deadpan, chain-smoking Bees 2, 3, 4, all low-key oracles whose no-nonsense descriptions of the awful fates that await these characters are as dispassionate as a stock tip and just as moving."

Lawrence Bommer

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Skillfully directed by Anna D. Shapiro on an extraordinary set designed by Todd Rosenthal . This is a clever look at a topic that has caused many an argument over the years. Can people alter history? If one could see into the future, could one alter their way of life in order to change the outcome of the years to come? I, for one, do not believe that this can be accomplished, as I do not see anyone truly being able to see the future, but this is a play so we do not come in expecting reality- this is fantasy, but with an edge that may cause one to think about who they are and the way that they treat others. What starts out as a perfectly lovely Sunday morning, turns into a nightmare for Jay and Bee. The fourth player in this dynamic farcical look at life, is the Hispanic gardener, JJ (deftly handled by Tim Bickel). He has been hired to mow the lawn and when it is time to be paid, Jay has a problem handling this with any importance. Jay is blind to anything but what he needs and wants. His ex has the kids and Bee cannot add to his family. Bee, befriends JJ to make up for the way he was treated and in one of the future scenes, Bee turns out to be living with him and his mother (also played by the comical Ms Burke)."
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Alan Bresloff

  A Parallelogram Photo Gallery

   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 Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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