A Touch of the Poet Reviews
Chicago Sun Times- Recommended
"...The Artistic Home has long displayed a flair for the Irish and American classics, and each supporting role here gets spirited character work. Joseph Wiens is perfect as the gentlemanly young Irish bartender who loves both Sara and her mother. And Kevin Gladish, Kevin D’Ambrosio, Jimmy Ronan and Larry Garner zestily capture the penniless, uneducated riff-raff who perpetuate Irish immigrant stereotypes."
Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended
"...O'Neill puts his audience through as many changes as he puts his characters, but it's worth it. Frank Nall is riveting as the play's difficult, deluded patriarch, and Elizabeth Argus does a star turn as his rebellious, argumentative, but ultimately loving daughter."
Windy City Times- Highly Recommended
"...Elizabeth Argus delivers a marathon-paced performance in the role of young Sara Melody, navigating O'Neill's protracted speeches with the modulated ease of an opera diva, as does Frank Nall's intense Cornelius Melody, whose immersion in his character's conflicted poetry-quoting psyche remains undiminished right up to the final resolution. The remainder of the cast also reflects Artistic Home's high standards of expertise in Stage 773's intimate Black Box theater, but special mention is due Katherine Swan's chillingly candid portrait of Sara's potential mother-in-law as the embodiment of the Byronic female counterpart to the masculine ideal that so eludes the envious Melody."
Time Out Chicago- Recommended
"...Scambiatterra’s production is solid—at times excellent—but it has trouble making O’Neill’s various genres blend. The playwright’s grandiloquent gestures (Con repeatedly staring into the mirror and reciting Byron) are played with a restraint more fit for Pinter; they come off as simply weird. Meanwhile, the broadest humor (Con has a crack-’em-up crew o’ brawlers millin’ round his estate) is imprecise slapstick. Still, this production is the rare one that gains momentum. In the final moments, Con has a major revelation, a reckoning with his roots, that Nall plays pitch-perfectly."
"...Frank Nall is the larger-than-life Con Melody hopelessly stuck in the past whose present troubles are dimmed by whiskey. Elizabeth Argus, as Sara and Sally Eames, as Nora, complete the tragic Melody family. O’Neill sure has a handle on the trials of the Irish struggle for acceptance in America. He also depicts how past glories can overwhelm a person. The plague of whiskey in life both fuels and dims the tough life of the Irish. Fear, bitterness and poverty inhibit social growth in 19th Century America. O’ Neill’s high drama explores one family’s struggle. Kathy Scambiatterra’s direction is strong and their new digs at the remolded Stage 773 are a first-class improvement."
Chicago Stage and Screen- Highly Recommended
"... Seldom forfeiting sympathy in her clear-eyed struggle for freedom, Elizabeth Argus’ Sara never seems nobler than when she stakes all for love. If that illusion is no more solid than Con's paltry pride, it's the one we'll always take for best. Riveting in her self-effacement, Sally Eames plays Nora with a numbness that threatens to become its opposite and finally, explodes, magnificently, in battered loyalty. The ensemble of ten belong to their parts as if they’d never played any others."