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  Act(s) of God at Lookingglass Theatre

Act(s) of God

Lookingglass Theatre
821 N Michigan Ave Chicago

Three siblings, two parents, and one very unexpected dinner guest. As a family gathers for an overdue dinner, a mysterious envelope arrives with astonishing news. They soon find themselves scrambling to welcome a visitor of cosmic proportion. Absurdity reigns as ancient fissures open wide, long-held certainties crumble, and sh*t gets real. Will this nuclear family explode?

Thru - Apr 7, 2019

Price: $40-$75

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-337-0665

Running Time: 2hrs, 35mins; one intermission

Lookingglass Theatre Seating Chart

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  Act(s) of God Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Actually, "Act(s) of God" is the kind of first draft that would have a producer salivating - it is as full of rhetorical talent as of thematic ambition and Bandealy clearly has his own skin in the game. But this show wasn't yet fully ready for an audience. It needs workshopping, shaping, honing, cutting and above all focusing. At the top of Act 2 (far and away the best of the three acts), I found myself wishing that Bandealy had just started right there - with God farting in the computer room and a family caught between faith, secular humanism and intergenerational conflict, all breathing the fetid air and wondering what on earth to do."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...But enough of Bandealy's high concepts do pay off - including a stunning, slow-motion coup de theâtre that plays out over the last 20 or so minutes of the third act - to give you faith in the overall endeavor. At the first intermission, I was still a skeptic; by the play's end, I was a convert."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Still, the folks at Lookingglass, led by director Stillman, throw everything at their disposal to create a pleasant evening of theater-and they do have an impressive arsenal of theatrical tricks and devices. The cast is first-rate, especially Shannon Cochran as the family's rightfully angry matriarch. Stillman's production unfolds at just the right pace to keep an audience amused-provided they don't think about what they're watching or see how shallow and unsubstantial this all is."
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Jack Helbig

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Catnip for actors but silly-to-tedious for non-actors, this literally collapsible three-act moral comedy is set in 2029, just as an asteroid last seen in 2004 and named for an Egyptian snake goddess is 19,000 miles away and threatening terrestrial certainties."
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Lawrence Bommer

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Act(s) of God is a domestic dramady that is part soap opera, part absurdist romp, part philosophical dialectic. At its best, it resembles the family portraits of Albee, the incisive absurdism of Ionesco, and the philosophical musings of Thornton Wilder. Yet Kareem Bandealy's new play seems to be looking for a way to tie together all the things it tries to be, making for some disconcerting hairpin turns in tone and style. Nevertheless, the everything-and-the-kitchen sink approach to storytelling yields some rewards-there is plenty to discuss and ponder after the metaphorical curtain falls: about God, reality, identity and family. Under Heidi Stillman's no-holds-barred direction, performed by top-notch cast, Bandealy's clever, entertaining script makes for a bewildering but worthwhile evening of theater."

Kerstin Broockmann

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Recommended

"...Shannon Cochran does an excellent job as the Mother with her on point comedic timing, and Kristina Valada-Viars was terrific in her role as the lost soul fighting to find love and acceptance from her mother after choosing to live a life that doesn't fit their religious upbringing. The camaraderie between Irons and Viars is energetic an adds a real-life scenario of sibling rivalry. Bandealy should have played off this and continue with the personal touch embedded in the storyline as it brought out their true feelings that the audience can relate to and not go out of spectrum and into what seems to have been another play within itself in the third act."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Another World Premiere in Chicago's world of theater. This particular one, at Lookingglass Theatre was written by one of the ensemble members, Kareem Bandealy ( this is his first play and because of that, I will give him a bit more leeway than normal). The play is titled "Act (s) of God" and takes place in 2029, ten years hence, in an unknown or unnamed area that is near a railroad track. The home ( Brian Sidney Bembridge has designed a very livable living room and dining area- we never see the rest of this ranch home that seems to be in a deserted area) is where all of the action takes place. It is a special week-end. Father (Rom Barkordar truly is perfect in this role) a philosopher and very religious man who has stories about just about everything, and Mother ( an incredible performance by the always reliable Shannon Cochran, who even sings an "aria" to close out the first act) are awaiting the arrival of their children."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Any one of those subplots could have provided the material for an evening but Lookingglass ensemble member Kareem Bandealy's first play, "Act(s) of God" (directed by Heidi Stillman), combines them all into a jumble of sci-fi, drama, comedy and absurdity. For the first two acts, it works wonderfully well. Bandealy has a handy way with dialogue that makes this family's bickering hilariously believable ("I'm the first woman in his life," announces Mother to hapless Fiancee), sometimes painfully so ("[Motherhood] doesn't just wreck your body. It wrecks your entirety"). The way each act closes is about as perfect as theatrical punctuation gets: Mother gets a show-stopping aria (never have the words "a travel agent" been sung with such conviction). A fight scene straight out of Genesis gets the siblings in an impressive tangle."
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Irene Hsiao

WTTW - Recommended

"...Under Heidi Stillman's highly polished direction, Valada-Viar, Irons, Briggs and Gavino all give distinctive, just larger-than-life performances in this feverishly verbal (often lewd) play that would benefit from a bit of judicious editing. But if you are in search of a far from ordinary "dissonance-at-a-family dinner" play infused with a crazy cosmic vibe that plays with some of the big human questions, "Act(s) of God" will be the answer to your prayers."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...Like most absurdist plays, it’s difficult to say, with any real authority, what this new play is actually about. There’s a fair amount of discussion about religion, lots of non sequiturs that provoke laughter, a fair amount of scholarly erudition and many confusing occurrences, especially as this comic drama draws to its strange climax. Kareem Bandealy’s first attempt as a playwright might, like so many initial attempts, become better after this premiere production and with a rewrite, or two. There’s a lot of material in this three-act play that could probably be cut, but that sort of trimming requires the wisdom found in a trial production and some artistic distance. It would be fun to see this play again after it’s been edited a bit."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...This is Bandealy's first major play and he demonstrates a dazzling way with words. Bandealy knows how to create full-blooded characters and amid all the verbal and physical uproar of "Act(s) of God" he can be very funny. His play will test the tolerance of viewers who insist the playwright should say with he means without all the "huh" plot twists and thematic ambiguities. Still, this work needs to be seen by any adventurous playgoer. Let's cut Bandealy some slack on the thematic and narrative absurdities and enjoy the product of a challenging new writer on the drama scene unafraid to tackle big topics in his own distinctive creative style. As to what the play's title signifies, your guess is as good as mine."
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Dan Zeff - Somewhat Recommended

"...Billed as an existential dark comedy, but really much more of a farce, it is a “guess who’s coming to dinner” tale of cosmic proportions. Written by troupe member and actor Kareem Bandealy and directed by Heidi Stillman, the show spares nothing in quality of effort and has an intriguing storyline, but runs off the rails by the third act."
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Bill Esler

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...Although Director Heidi Stillman creates an unforgettable ending, her overall pacing is sluggish. She facilitates the three act show with two intermissions. The intermissions tack on about forty minutes to the show. Their primary function appears to be to put up lights for the dinner party and take them down. Since the dinner party isn't even shown, putting the lights up in the first intermission and take them down in the second seems completely superfluous."
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Katy Walsh

Chicago Theater and Arts - Somewhat Recommended

"...Take a dysfunctional family, yes, another one, add intellectual rhetoric, several different ideas (make them existential, religious, morality bent, etc.) and wrap the action in somewhat comic absurdism and you have "Act (s) of God" by Kareem Bandealy at Lookingglass Theatre."
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Jodie Jacobs

Chicago On Stage - Somewhat Recommended

"...Ultimately I can’t fully recommend this play, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find parts of it fascinating. Bandealy is dealing with issues of cosmic proportions here while visiting with a single dysfunctional family; it makes for an interesting twist and an interesting dichotomy. But I wonder if aiming for less might have served him more."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Recommended

"...With a teasing setup about a family gathering impacted by a letter that will alter lives, Kareem Bandealy’s dark comedy “Act(s) of God” was already a fascinating curiosity before anyone took their seats at Lookingglass Theatre Friday evening. As the play unfolds, it becomes curiouser and curiouser—a sprawling three-act theatrical experience better to be discovered than recalled."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Thought-provoking yet hilarious, Act(s) of God is an event that will stick with you as you exit the theater and well beyond. Bandealy asks questions that are frightening, but important to consider as we move forward in this world. This writer has certainly not stopped thinking about the play since."
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Lauren Katz

  Act(s) of God 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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