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  Blood and Gifts at TimeLine Theatre Company

Blood and Gifts

TimeLine Theatre Company
615 W. Wellington Ave Chicago

This spy thriller-named one of the Top 10 plays of 2011 by The New York Times - goes deep inside the secret United States intrigue that powered the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s. A CIA operative struggles against conditions on the ground and politics in the halls of Washington to stop the Soviet Army's destruction of Afghanistan. As alliances shift and the outcome of the Cold War appears to hang in the balance, he and an Afghan warlord find that the only one they can trust is each other. This bold new play unmasks the actions of men behind one of recent history's greatest events - the repercussions of which still shape our lives.

Thru - Jul 28, 2013

Price: $32-$42

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-281-8463

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

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  Blood and Gifts Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"..."Blood and Gifts" arrives in Chicago after acclaimed productions at the National Theatre in London, the Lincoln Center in New York and the La Jolla Playhouse in California. This play, which requires a cast of 14, is certainly testing the resources of the TimeLine Theatre, which has literally crammed the action into every last corner of its namesake theater. There is no real dividing line between the lobby and the playing space in Colette Pollard's design for director Nick Bowling's admirably ambitious production."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...In "Blood and Gifts," the ferociously smart, thoroughly excoriating 2011 drama by J.T. Rogers - now receiving a TimeLine Theatre production that is altogether as bloody brilliant as the play itself - those questions are answered in terms that are not only thrillingly dramatic and non-dogmatic, but deeply personal. Rogers knows the political machinations inside and out, but far more importantly, he understands how to bring to life the passions, pride, resentment, fanatacism and egotism that can drive nations, tribes and individuals to the edge of the abyss and beyond."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"...Afghan commander Khan, meanwhile, plays all ends against the middle. Even though their acting styles can clash, director Nick Bowling's cast make the four-sided chess match harrowing. While the second act loses some urgency—the action moves from shell-shocked Pakistan to buttoned-down D.C.—Timeline Theatre Company's swift, cunningly designed production is always engaging."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...This is one of TimeLine's largest and most complex shows, and it's terribly important as well. Masterful veteran director Nick Bowling does not disappoint, handling with equal skill the complex physical logistics of the alley staging (audience on two sides, facing across the stage) and the high emotions of the characters. This is gangbusters theater with one of the finest casts currently onstage: Kane (Warnock), Raymond Fox (Brit agent Simon Craig), Terry Hamilton (cagey, avuncular Soviet Dmitri Gromov), Kareem Bandealy (passionate warlord Abdullah Khan), with Anish Jethmalani, Behzad Dabu, Craig Spidle and David Parkes shining in crucial supporting roles."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...Nick Bowling's firm direction drives this production. Timothy Edward Kane, as the empathetic Warnock and facilitator of the story, displays a cool edginess combined with a calm genuine likability. Kareem Bandealy's volatile Abdullah Khan is a warlord with a deep sense of honor. Behzad Dabu is strong yet humorous as Saeed, Khan's righthand man obsessed with American culture. Raymond Fox and Terry Hamilton are brilliant and commanding as British agent Simon Craig and Russian agent Dmitri Gromov. Anish Jethmalani is a strong, powerful Colonel Afridi and Emily Ariel Rogers is perfectly plastic as a Congressional Staffer. With an artifact-filled lobby that beckons patrons to explore, history lives again at TimeLine."

Colin Douglas

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Nick Bowling's immersive staging and a strong cast of 14 keep us following the various threads with relative ease. If anything weighs down the forward momentum, it's Rogers's dives into his fictional characters' personal lives. The way Warnock, Gromov and Craig (Raymond Fox), a British MI6 operative, trade stories about their wives and children back home is presumably meant to humanize these agents, yet their fictional family lives feel extraneous aside the real and very recent world-shaping they're engaged in."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Between director Nick Bowling’s efficient and imaginative staging, which manages to sustain the tension over a long and circuitous course, and Collette Pollard’s open, minimalist set design – which neatly moves us from airport to night-time desert to the corridors of Washington – this production draws us in with a magnetic naturalism. Credit that as well to Jenny Mannis’ costumes and Mike Tutaj’s video projections. It is an enveloping, absorbing experience."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...This is a smart play that probes the complexities of Cold War policies that still have ramifications today. Finally, we see how a moderate Afghan leader can become 'radicalized.' See this marvelous work for more insights into the quagmire of Afghanistan."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Now - Highly Recommended

"...BLOOD AND GIFTS is 'how we got here.' This dramatic analysis of the politics behind a revolution stings. BLOOD AND GIFTS illustrates every decision is a trust moment between two people. One lie unravels everything. And if everyone is lying, what happens next? The legitimacy of BLOOD AND GIFTS left me effectively paranoid to what is happening now around the globe."
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...This is a fast paced production making the 2 1/2 hours ( one intermission) seem much quicker, but I will say you need to pay close attention as there are many little sub-stories about the lives these men lead and the ups and downs of the wheeeling-dealing they must do to gain entry into a world they know little of. The play is about people, forced to make decisions , ones that will have a great effect on not only their government, but that of the world itself. There are no perfect answers to solving these world problems, thus there are no really good choices/decisions. What they are forced to do is to make decisions that are the least "bad" ones with less repercussions for all involved."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"..."Blood and Gifts" is not only great theater, it should be required study for every college political science class exploring the turbulent history of modern southwest Asia, the source of so much grief for the United States. The play is a cautionary tale of the consequences that follow intervention in a global area we do not understand. The play demonstrates that we aren't so much the Ugly Americans in Afghanistan as the naive Americans. It would be comforting to claim that Afghanistan was a learning experience for America, but consider the subsequent record."

Dan Zeff

  Blood and Gifts 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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