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  Bigmouth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater


Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

Equipped with five microphones, his voice, and indefatigable energy, Valentijn Dhaenens pays tribute to the 2,500-year history of oration in this tour-de-force performance. The smash hit of Edinburgh Fringe Festival ingeniously weaves together fragments of seminal speeches ranging from Socrates and Muhammad Ali to General Patton and Osama bin Laden, revealing that the tricks of rhetoric have never changed. Dhaenens traverses across time, picking the right words to morph a weak argument and to win power and glory-or the hand of a beloved.

Thru - Sep 22, 2018

Price: $32-$56

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Running Time: 1hr, 20mins

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  Bigmouth Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...By the end of this piece — did I mention it is a must-see for any political animal? — you’re left with a Mount Rushmore and a Mount Trashmore of words, lofty and meaningful, oh sure, but also catnip for the ignorant and the historic tools of annihilation."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...For every striking choice, such as invoking Osama bin Laden's 1996 declaration of jihad, there's a head-scratcher like a milquetoast address by Belgium's King Baudouin. The only female voice represented is the right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter, in her notorious post-September 11 jeremiad ("we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"). Dhaenens quotes a lot of big mouths, certainly. But shorn of context and with no real framing, it's frustratingly unclear what Dhaenens is using them to say."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"...Some of the speeches—like those of Socrates and Nicola Sacco addressing the courts that will condemn them, or Goebbels and George Patton celebrating war—echo each other. Some create counterpoint. Dhaenen doesn't do much to embody the speakers or coach us toward a conclusion. What he does is incite a conversation across time, between good and evil, victory and failure, rise and decline, forcing us to listen."
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Tony Adler

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Who says words can’t kill? In BigMouth, flawlessly intoning English, Walloon, French, and German (with captions), Belgian solo performance artist Valentijn Dhaenens pours a dozen passions into nine alternating microphones. In little more than 70 minutes, this creator-performer conflates disparate speeches from sources as diverse as the innocent but executed anarchist Sacco in 1927 to Robert Kennedy’s urgent humanism to the execrable xenophobe Ann Coulter, paranoid and patronizing."
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Lawrence Bommer

WTTW - Highly Recommended

"...However you describe “BigMouth,” the virtuosic, 85-minute, one-of-a-kind, one-man show created and performed by Valentijn Dhaenens – an actor, writer, director and co-founder of SKaGeN, a theater company based in Antwerp, Belgium – its impact is undeniable."
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Hedy Weiss

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...I only had two words; persuasive xenophobia. Although it seems Dhaenens didn’t necessarily set out with the mission to highlight that aspect of humanity, that is what emerged in this research on strong oratory moments. Maybe there is some unspoken rule that 90% of all songs must be love songs, and 90% of all speeches must be about power imbalance, or trying to justify power imbalance?"
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Karin McKie and Kim Campbell

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