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  Ask Aunt Susan at Goodman Theatre

Ask Aunt Susan

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

Aunt Susan is a twenty-something man who moonlights as an online advice guru. When "Ask Aunt Susan" becomes the web's hottest spot for self-help, Aunt Susan's boss, a reckless funder, rakes in the profits from women's everyday woes. But as her online reputation mushrooms, so does Aunt Susan's web of deceit-and soon the phenomenon is much bigger than Aunt Susan could have ever imagined.

Thru - Jun 22, 2014

Price: $10-$40

Stage: Owen Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins;no intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  Ask Aunt Susan Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Not Recommended

"...In this show, characters who have decided happily not to make love, then end up in bed together without ever offering any kind of explanation for the turnabout. At one point, Miss L gives his kinda girlfriend (played by Meghan Reardon) the brushoff by saying he loves his readers more. Fair enough: that's a smart inversion of the source. But Stage does not show us love of anything."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...This is the city that once upon a time gave us those rival sibling advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren. But now comes a 21st century take on the phenomenon by way of the Goodman Theatre's world premiere production of "Ask Aunt Susan," Seth Bockley's hilarious but emotionally blistering satire about how "advice" is generated, monetized and viralized on the Internet, and how human connection in the tech age has grown as strangely disconnected as the electronic cloud itself."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The script isn't helped much by Wishcamper's staging, which suffers from colorless performances and a serious lack of get-up-and-go. The pace only picks up in the latter half of the show's 85-minute running time, when Bockley abruptly abandons West and decides he'll do a psychological thriller instead. Lydia and Steve take over Aunt Susan's self-help empire, while the fictional guru's creator—for reasons I never understood—becomes a paranoid mess convinced that one of Scott's wacky waitresses is blackmailing him with the threat of revealing to the world that Aunt Susan is, in fact, an uncle."
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Zac Thompson

Gapers Block - Recommended

"...Henry Wishcamper's direction is crisp and smooth and he has some strong performers to work with. Robyn Scott does an excellent turn as bartender and diner waitress. Marc Grapey is a funny, fiendish, venal Steve, perfectly cast as the money-grubbing capitalist who never misses a chance to have fun. Jennie Moreau is a perfect foil as Lydia -- graceful, elegant and brutally serious about business. Meghan Reardon as Betty is a dreamy, sentimental young woman, who is out of tune with her boyfriend's tech addiction. Alex Stage's performance as Aunt Susan is the performance that I found lacking. Yes, he's supposed to be a nonentity, intent and even obsessed with the internet, and then with his role as the advice guru. I found his performance to be a little too laid back."
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Nancy Bishop

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Moreau's character remains a bit ill-defined, and Bockley hasn't yet established why his title character would be enlisted into this business in the first place, but Henry Wishcamper's deft staging, amid Kevin Depinet's attractive and appropriately skewed scenic design, keeps things at just enough of a wink to get by."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Recommended

"...Under Henry Wishcamper’s direction the humor in Ask Aunt Susan resonates well and he captures much of Bockley’s dark, dry sense of humor. His cast is comprised of some very talented people (Alex Stage making his Goodman debut being one of them and Marc Grapey with a superb comic timing) with chemistry who leads us on this snake-like rollercoaster ride through the world of internet advice chat rooms."
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James Murray

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Like his equally probing The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West’s 1933 novella Miss Lonelyhearts all but skewers its subject: the loneliness of crowds and the desperation that anonymity generates in each and, finally, en masse. West’s seminal work depicts a hard-boiled young journalist who reluctantly becomes a newspaper advice columnist, only to discover that the power of persuasion is a double-edged sword. Supposedly solving his readers’ often traumatic troubles with easy, 100-word answers only alienates them—and himself—more than West’s anti-hero can handle. “Miss Lonelyhearts” is a nom de plume but also a confession of failure. A newspaper can’t be father confessor, psychiatrist, mother, best friend, and career counselor, either in part or in all."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Funny, spectacular, and engaging, Ask Aunt Susan will entertain while sneaking in immensely timely commentary. It’s easy to find comfort on the internet, but at the end of the day we are all human beings who yearn for tangible interactions. If you find yourself buried in your tiny screens, come to the theatre and spend some time with Aunt Susan. Take the time to be in a physical room full of people instead of a chat room and let Ask Aunt Susan carry the burdens of the digital age."
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Michael Gerrity

Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...Bockley has done great work in various Chicago theaters, and I applaud the fact that this script – in various states of development at the Goodman since 2010 – has been given an expensive premiere. But surely someone along the way should have known that plays about technology must also contain a human element, or they have a short shelf life. Ask Aunt Susan might surf the Goodman’s reputation to a decent regional theater run, but unlike the kind and sensible sentiments of ‘Dear Abby’ which has been running in newspapers for over 50 years, this Susan’s run won’t last."

David Zak

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...We certainly live in a new era. As I sut here writing my review of the latest production at Goodman Theatre, in the Owen Theatre, I think about how important a computer is to our lives; each and every one of us! Yes, the younger kids have a much better handle on the “digital world” that surrounds us, but guiess what? Those of us reaching senior status are noe engaged in the computer, the cell phone, texting and e-mail as part of our lives. The new play, i sone that deals with this world. In this bright new story ( one that may be even real, somewhere) written by Seth Beckly, we meet “Aunt Susan” ( smartly played by Alex Stage) , a former techno-geek with Yelp who now finds himself employed as a lovelorn columnist on the internet, with soaring numbers of daily contacts."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...At best, Bockley’s play is a catalyst for conversation, bringing to light the notion that the internet can be a double-edged sword. While this isn’t exactly a new idea, as presented in Henry Wishcamper’s fast-paced production that’s devoid of frills and frippery, the message hits home. And although the play doesn’t have a real conclusion but simply fizzles to an end, it does present a lot of information and raises all kinds of questions. Its terrific cast and in-your-face staging, filled with humor and unexpected plot twists, will provoke many a water cooler conversation."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Somewhat Recommended

"...A revised “Ask Aunt Susan “ might succeed as a breezy comedy for the “now” generation or it could be a sharp-edged satire, or a slice of very noir drama, like “Miss Lonelyhearts.” As it stands now, the show sort of meanders from scene to scene without selling the audience on a specific point of view, either in narrative or theme. Let it be funny or disturbing, but it needs to make a choice and stick with it."

Dan Zeff

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