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  Alias Grace at Rivendell Theatre

Alias Grace

Rivendell Theatre
5775 N. Ridge Avenue Chicago

A world premiere adaptation of Margaret Atwood's acclaimed novel Alias Grace takes a look at one of Canada's most notorious murderers. In 1843, 16-year-old Grace Marks was accused of brutally murdering her employer and his housekeeper. Imprisoned for years, Grace swears she has no memory of the killings. A doctor in the emerging field of mental health arrives to try to find out the truth of the matter. Alias Grace is a fascinating study of memory, culpability, and the shadowy spaces within the human mind.

Thru - Nov 4, 2017

Price: $28-$38

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-334-7728

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins; one intermission

  Alias Grace Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...And fair enough. It's a gripping true-crime narrative (there are shades of "Handmaid's Tale" and "The Crucible") and, although the staging stutters in Act 2, never firmly deals with the sexualized complexity of the narrative, and thus hardly achieves the dramatic tension this level of material surely could, director Karen Kessler's production, which was workshopped at Ball State University, features a killer central performance (replete with flawless Irish accent) from the richly nuanced Ashley Neal."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Stage versions of Atwood's work are still rare, however, so Rivendell Theatre's riveting world premiere production of "Alias Grace" - her 1996 novel that was loosely based on a notorious 1843 murder case, and has now been brilliantly adapted for the stage by Jennifer Blackmer - is reason to celebrate. And the production, presented in association with Brian Nitzkin, could not have arrived at a more opportune moment."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Each actor in the story's central triangle-Ashley Neal as the convicted murderer, Jane Baxter Miller as her none-too-enlightened jailer, Steve Haggard as the none-too-enlightened doctor tending to both women's contradictory needs-brings an eye for nuanced detail (Miller's inscrutable smile is impossibly layered), turning near stock characters into compelling conundrums. The rest of the cast isn't far behind. Excepting the preposterous climax, these two hours are unexpectedly captivating."
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Justin Hayford

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...And what a story it is; what people these are. For all the faults listed here, you will likely be gripped by this world where, even when men lack the money or the status to truly hold power, they still hold power over women by virtue of their sex. It's the kind of world that the theocrats in The Handmaid's Tale sought to recreate: where women, especially poor ones, were treated like chattel. Even if the blade is slightly dulled, Alias Grace is still sharp enough to cut-and draw real blood."
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Alex Huntsberger

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Everyone in my book club enjoyed the Rivendell Theatre production of "Alias Grace", Jennifer Blackmer's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's book about an ugly incident in Canadian history. Grace Marks (a real person) was tried and convicted of the murders of her employer and his housekeeper, on the sketchiest of circumstantial evidence. The production, characterized by strong acting, is very well done. I did have some problems with the adaptation, however."
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Carol Moore

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...While lacking in resolution, "Alias Grace" does offer a satisfying wrinkle in what our culture typically presents as the freshly laundered sheets of feminine psychology. However, it should be noted that it took a female novelist, playwright, director and a company literally dedicated to the lives of women to make such a work possible. For its achievements of nuance, there is a sense that "Alias Grace" could have delved further into the cultural pathologies surrounding the treatment of women, which range from casual to criminal. In a year defined by a brazen lack of subtlety, the play's restraint can feel at times like fighting fire with instructional videotape."
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Kevin Greene

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...Ashley Neal is remarkable as Grace, a frightened and cautious woman who still retains much of her youth that was taken from her when she was convicted of murder at the age of 16. Grace is wary of Dr. Jordan at first, but it doesn't take long for her to open up about her past. Grace's memories play out in front of the audience, and, although this information isn't new, Dr. Jordan takes it in like a drug. His real addictions become clearer as the play goes on, and Haggard's portrayal of the troubled and often disturbed doctor brings a tangible unease to the stage. Grace and Dr. Jordan's relationship is based entirely on power, which continuously shifts throughout the play. Both characters desperately want validation for their actions, but neither is able to find it."
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Kate Scott

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Ashley Nealís first entry into the small Rivendell Theatre stage as Grace reminds of a puppy battered so much into crouching submission that nobody feels moved to rescue her wretched self from the shelter. Her neck, eyes, shoulder, hip each claim varying planes of orientation. She strides yet cowers. All she lacks is mange."
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Amy Munice

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...All of the elements of this play come together as perfectly as the quilt that Grace is making, which itself uses-as she tells us-winter colors, darker colors, reflective of the deep colors she sees in prison when she closes her eyes and turns them toward the sun. Reflecting on the propensity to make bold quilts to cover it, she asks, "Why do women make the bed the most noticeable thing in the room?" As if in rambling answer to her own question, she explores the bed's importance in life: birth, sex, sleep, giving birth, dying...the bed is life and it is death. And in Grace's case, with death being such a part of her life, winter colors seem very appropriate."
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Karen Topham

  Alias Grace 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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