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  Big Lake Big City at Lookingglass Theatre

Big Lake Big City

Lookingglass Theatre
821 N Michigan Ave Chicago

Detective Bass can't catch a break: his boss is a hard-ass, his partner's a knucklehead, his wife's a cheat, and now he has to chase down a perp who has a screwdriver in his head. An eclectic set of shady characters-crooked coroners, a TV-personality doctor, a femme fatale, and one extraordinarily valuable sculpture-run roughshod through a hilarious maze of double-crosses and double-identities. 2011 Writers Guild Award-winner Keith Huff lampoons the Windy City with a menacing smirk and tongue in cheek in this gritty modern noir directed by David Schwimmer.

Thru - Aug 25, 2013

Price: $36-$70

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-337-0665

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

Lookingglass Theatre Seating Chart

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  Big Lake Big City Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"..."Big Lake Big City," a wildly ambitious and staggeringly unwieldy new Keith Huff comedic pot-boiler set in a town near you, features such famous Chicago attractions as a county morgue wherein pathologists play golf with severed heads, a couple caught in flagrante delicto in a crummy Lincoln Avenue motel and then burned to a crisp, a precious talking head that resides as sculpture in a Lake Point Tower condo and narrates these entire proceedings, and a construction worker who uses a baseball cap to cover up the titanium screwdriver that someone has helpfully planted in his skull. And if, like me, you are a fan of the helpfully named East of Edens diner at 6350 N. Cicero Ave., well, let's just say that particular eatery-with-a-past will never quite seem the same again after time spent in the company of this bit of nouveau Midwestern pulp fiction."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Now “Big Lake Big City,” directed by David Schwimer, arrives as the third play about Chicago cops in what Huff promised would be a trilogy (a neo-gothic monologue, “The Detective’s Wife,” was staged a few years ago by Writers’ Theatre). And in both scale and style it is a very different piece of work, with faux-noir dialogue replacing Huff’s previously dense narrative writing, and a cast of 10 populating a heavily plotted tale of Windy City thugs, doctors, detectives, unfaithful spouses, insurance adjusters and an array of Latino characters in a variety of predicaments."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...A seasoned ensemble brings expertise sufficient to impose a veneer of depth on characters written as comic book-thin archetypes. Unsurprisingly, the actors assigned the fewest physical stunts come off better than those encumbered with too much gratuitous scenic slapstick. (Philip R. Smith may have the best lines, but Danny Goldring's delivery nails the tonal authenticity with every syllable.) Anyway, it's rare for Lookingglass to do lightweight fare, and a live-action cartoon replete with Windy City geographical nods should prove suitable vacation viewing for tourists seeking a safe introduction to Chicago's fabled mean streets."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...If you've come to expect sharp, professional productions from Lookingglass, their 25th Anniversary Season finale will not disappoint, even though it represents a radical departure from the company's solemn, mythic style. Keith Huff's darkly comic ensemble piece, crisply directed with class by Ensemble member David Schwimmer, is a polished, minutely choreographed riff on film noir detective dramas, with a nod to the violence of a Quentin Tarantino film."

Colin Douglas

Time Out Chicago - Not Recommended

"...One can imagine a scrappier company like the Factory Theater pulling off this tricky balance. There, at least, the whole team might be more likely on the same page. At Lookingglass's scale, though, Big Lake Big City is a big mess."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...In no small way, the charm of "Big Lake Big City" lies in the seamless stitching of its sizable ensemble. The characters are vividly drawn, the comedy is brash, outrageous and sharp. And director David Schwimmer plays characters and situations off each other with an unfailing mix of irony and tension. It isn't slapstick. These are real people in the throes of life-altering crises - even if it's all tossed up with hilarious wit."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Not Recommended

"...Schwimmer’s very game cast of ten vintage Chicago actors is always on top of a bottom-feeding, hit-and-run play. They each rise to the occasion — but then that’s two to six inches at best. Showing off is this theater’s richly rewarded guilty pleasure: The acting ranges from rabid overkill to, only too rarely, downhome decent."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Huff’s script gets weighted down with several subplots that eventually changes the tone of the play from raw film noir to parody to camp and back and forth between theses styles. While Big Lake Big City sure has its moments and it does contain some humor and some biting sarcasm, the over-complicated plot and the underdeveloped characters (other than Bass Podaris) gives audience few people to care about. Too many twists and improvable turns wears thin. If Huff would settle on one style, trim the number of characters, and reduce some of the sick humor, Big Lake Big City could emerge as a worthy piece. Phillip R. Smith leads a terrific cast all of whom work hard to make this script work."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...The play teases the audience throughout with talk of redemption and justice, but the talk seems disingenuous when weighed in balance with the actions of the characters, who really don’t seem intent on changing their ways. The idea of continuity theory, with death being described as the ultimate discontinuity, is interesting but largely unexplored until, in an explicit nod to the movies, Stew describes the continuity of vision the screwdriver to his brain has given him (along with the distance that comes from “getting high”). Unfortunately, a sense of continuity eludes the play, which ultimately does not manage to make meaning of the many characters and elements of the multi-tasking plot. Despite the best efforts of all involved, there are too many dropped balls and abrupt shifts in tone. What could be a moving genre piece becomes a carnival ride with moments of import and introspection that are drowned out by cheap laughs and shocks. Ultimately, the play is more smoke and mirrors than substance, though it is certainly entertaining while it lasts."

Kerstin Broockmann

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Recommended

"...Summer is the time for movie blockbusters. Playful entertainment that makes us laugh and provides an engaging outlet for a couple hours. BIG LAKE BIG CITY is Big Fun Big Chicago! It’s like Chicago in the movies but better."
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Katy Walsh

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...Viewers who stay with the play during its confusing mosaic of opening scenes should have a pleasurable evening. The acting and physical production are fine. Ultimately, the production requires a large helping of tolerance to buy into the antics on stage that provide plenty of sound and fury but not much depth of character and emotional resonance. If the play has a moral or social agenda it eluded me. But I had fun."

Dan Zeff

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