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  Balm In Gilead at The Den Theatre

Balm In Gilead

The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

Enter the world of Frank's cafe, an all-night coffee shop on Manhattan's Upper West Side frequented by a makeshift community of dealers, junkies, hustlers, prostitutes, dreamers and runaways. BALM IN GILEAD loosely centers on Joe, a cynical drug dealer, and Darlene, a naive new arrival to the big city as their lives intersect over the course of three days. Having previously produced Wilson's The Hot L Baltimore (1990) and Fifth of July (2003), Griffin is pleased to present the celebrated playwright's first full-length work.

Presented by Griffin Theatre Company

Thru - Apr 19, 2015

Price: $35

Show Type: Drama

Running Time: 2hrs

  Balm In Gilead Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...The show has a bit of the gauze and glaze of that Hudson commercial, but I don't mean that to be overly disparaging. This neo-"Balm in Gilead" wants to be styled and distinctive — Berry, after all, is on the rise — but it is sincere, the work of talented folk, true to Wilson's heart and memory, and thus well worth a look. There is an idea behind everything, and a person, workin' it."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Now, more than three decades later, director Jonathan Berry has gathered a cast of 30 actors for the Griffin Theatre production of Wilson’s 1964 play — a work that is primarily a crazy cacophony of the voices of heroin addicts, drug dealers, prostitutes, lesbians, transvestites, criminals and a slew of other desperate and deluded souls who gather in a greasy spoon restaurant in New York. More like a musical score than a standard script — a fugue for the damaged and dispossessed — the play might not feel quite as revolutionary as it once did. But it remains an intriguing experiment. And if for no other reason, the chance to see Ashleigh LaThrop play Darlene is reason enough to catch it."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...In this Griffin Theatre Company revival, director Jonathan Berry fails to find the music in the noise, letting his 31-member cast mug and overplay in lieu of building a cohesive ensemble. The play’s seedy atmosphere is further compromised by inauthentically clean-cut actors and Mieka Van der Ploeg’s faintly nostalgic early-60s costumes. These nighthawks look about as threatening as the T-Birds in Grease."
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Zac Thompson

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Balaban makes for an appealingly doomed young protagonist, convincingly selling Joe's combination of jittery anxiousness and mislaid optimism. LaThrop's Darlene might initially come across too naive for a character who's already been around the block at least a time or two. But in her 20-minute Act II recounting of her past near-marriage in Chicago-and the shakiness of her story's most basic details about our city's geography, among other things-LaThrop lets us see even the lies Darlene has been telling herself begin to crack and chap in ways no balm will heal."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...The vibe might be described as frenetic inertia. At this 1960s New York City cafe, the locale of Lanford Wilson's play "Balm in Gilead," drug pushers and drug users, prostitutes and assorted other low-lifes and lost souls convene, or perhaps the word is collide, in an ever-simmering froth of collective despair. It's a youthful scene, yet emptiness and delusion form a vista of concentrated sadness, and it is etched deeply into Griffin Theatre's production directed by Jonathan Berry."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Berry says he wanted his production to create some sense of understanding of people who for all their flaws, were victims of social repression that continues today, notably homophobia and ineffective mental health and drug counseling. Balm in Gilead is a tragedy, not of individuals, but of its characters collectively. Wilson's depiction of Frank's inhabitants is brutal and pessimistic, though his method of breaking the fourth wall allows them some ability to make their own pleas."
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Jacob Davis

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This is a wonderful, ambitious production of a challenging play, difficult for both the director and his cast. But Jonathan Berry has molded his large ensemble of talented, young actors and created an environment filled with sad, interesting, desperate characters, all of whom are seeking the necessary balm to make it through another night in this Gilead."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...BALM IN GILEAD isn't one big story. It's a lot of little stories. Stories of discarded people trying to escape the reality of a dismissed life. Berry gives all 31 of his talented cast an opportunity to tell their story in inconsequential yet significant ways. It's the challenge of the audience to take in as many stories as we can experience. I'd like to occupy a booth at Frank's to see the show from a different angle. I'd sip on my 50 cent coffee to go with this delectably seedy slice of life."
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Katy Walsh

  Balm In Gilead 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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