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  Bruise Easy at American Theater Company

Bruise Easy

American Theater Company
1909 W Byron Chicago

Suburbia. Today. In the glow of florescent streetlights, two estranged siblings meet in the driveway of their childhood home and begin the conversation of a lifetime. With Bruise Easy, LeFranc presents a poetic and haunting portrait of middle-class America.

Thru - Feb 14, 2016

Price: $38-$48

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-409-4125

Running Time: 1hr, 25mins

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  Bruise Easy Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"..."Bruise Easy" is not the first drama about the soul-sucking nature of the suburban broken home, of course, but it takes far more risks than most and it elevates the angst of middle-class America. LeFranc clearly wants to show how the combination of abandonment, boredom and cultural deprivation bruises a young person's body and soul in equal measure. It's a play that really could be something."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Not Recommended

"...Do not blame the fine actors (Kelly O'Sullivan and Matt Farabee), who work themselves into a sweat to bring the play to life, or the director, Joanie Schultz, or the droll, Greek chorus-style ensemble of six neighborhood kids comprised of members of ATC's Youth Ensemble. And that always inventive designer, Chelsea M. Warren, has crafted a set - the garage of a suburban California house - that could not be more ideal.
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...As the siblings get reacquainted, Dan LeFranc’s script suggests currents of hurt and resentment passing between them, conveyed with scrappy charisma by performers Matt Farabee and Kelly O’Sullivan. But LeFranc’s efforts to turn the story into a kind of contemporary Greek tragedy—indicated by a masked chorus of neighborhood children, the suggestion of a family curse, and the introduction of some larger-than-life passions—feel lurid and forced."
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Zac Thompson

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...All of this is punctuated by a Greek-style chorus of neighborhood kids, mostly played by members of ATC's Youth Ensemble in generic plastic Halloween masks. They show up periodically to provide supplemental information and foreboding, their in-unison addresses rendered in SoCal style (lots of "likes"). Though charmingly achieved in Joanie Schultz's production, the device doesn't shake the feeling of gimmickry. And while O'Sullivan and Farabee, two of the most appealing young actors in town, find moments of honest connection, whatever's going on overall at their end of the driveway seems forever beyond our grasp."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Somewhat Recommended

"...There’s a critical difference between a play that is intensely provocative and one that is essentially an unfinished puzzle. Dan LeFranc’s “Bruise Easy,” now in its world premiere run at American Theater Company, falls into the latter category. It is a tale fraught with sex and monosyllables, signifying we know not what."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Not Recommended

"...The work ends with the chorus explaining that the house has been the place where several families have experienced dooming troubles. So we are suppose to believe that the house caused incest and strange behavior from the siblings? Nothing in this play leads to that. It plays out as but another reason that Bruise Easy is a failed, boring work that begs the question: “Why did ATC produce such a terrible play?”"
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...Bruise Easy tries too hard to indict its subject, the alienation and homogenization of suburban America, and ends up destroying the empathy built up by the heartfelt, intense performances of Kelly O'Sullivan and Matt Farabee, leaving this tragedy without the needed catharsis. I left feeling like the plot threw the characters of the play under a bus, rather than that the characters generated their own tragic decline."

Kerstin Broockmann

Around The Town Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...There are times when it is difficult to put the stars on a review. In the case of the World Premiere of Dan LeFranc’s “Bruise Easy” now on the stage at American Theater Company, I want to say this is the case. The actors were solid and terrific! Kelly O’Sullivan as Tess is powerful and beautiful. Matt Farabee as Alec, her younger brother is also well played. It is the script that I found lacking and no matter how strong the direction (Joanie Schultz) is or the acting, in the end it is the over all picture that leaves its imprint on the viewer."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Not Recommended

"...The true tragedy of this play is how little "Bruise Easy" says about life, suburbia or fate. I could excuse the near constant parade of disturbing images (such as a drunk pregnant woman making out with her brother) if only there was a greater point. Heck, I would have settled for just a few tips on how to repair a driveway rather than a character vomiting on stage for no apparent reason other than to gross out the audience. Even a fine effort by Matt Farabee as Alec (a laid back stoner type a la Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") fails to elevate the work primarily because the script expects him to be a tad more sinister than the dialogue allows. The play also wastes a solid performance by Kelly O'Sullivan as Alec's sister, Tess, along with a good set design by Chelsea Warren."
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(Noel Schecter

Chicago Theatre Review - Not Recommended

"...By the final moments, given to some head-scratching commentary by the Greek chorus of neighboring teenagers, the audience is ready to throw in the towel and head back to something they can both appreciate and understand. Unfortunately, this confusing, almost infuriating play comes off more like an acting exercise than a satisfying night of theatre. The piece might work well in an academic setting but, unfortunately, it’s just not ready yet for primetime playgoers."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Not Recommended

"...Joanie Schultz directs the play but no director could save this example of intractable dramatic ineffectiveness. You have to admire Kelly O’Sullivan and Matt Farabee for their commitment to their characters. They played the extensive pauses as well as they could and managed to occasionally kindle some audience-involving emotion and a bit of humor. But the narrative breaks down into loose ends and just plain pointlessness. LeFranc is the author of “The Big Meal,” a deserved hit for the ATC. But “Bruise Easy” just doesn’t work and one leaves the theater wondering why the play was even written (or what the title is supposed to signify)."

Dan Zeff

Chicago Theater Beat - Not Recommended

"...It's a paltry payoff to a half-baked script (which, being that the opening was postponed, was apparently rewritten down to the wire, never a good sign for a new work). Joanie Schultz and her young duo do more than could ever be needed to bring LeFranc's "still life" to stage life. But the resentments never resonate. The character conflict is ill-defined and unmotivated. Bruise Easy is the artistic equivalent of paging through an excruciatingly random family album, where every unfocused snapshot means nothing to you whatsoever. Oh, the boredom!"

Lawrence Bommer

Third Coast Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite the play's brevity (it ran ~80 minutes on opening night), there are times when it drags. It takes time to build the sibling relationship and tease out the parental impact. But the first half of the production is painfully slow. I think music would help create and sustain the mood that Le Franc's script tries to build. Some moody strings, some mournful horns and a little low-key percussion between and during scenes could help turn Bruise Easy into a more compelling drama. Sound designer Thomas Dixon does well with crickets and other nighttime noises."
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Nancy Bishop

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