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  City Of Dreadful Night at The Den Theatre

City Of Dreadful Night

The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

Step into the rich, strange atmosphere of black and white crime dramas from the 1940s, combined with the city paintings of Edward Hopper, in this witty, laconic homage to 'film noir' movies. It's hot on the heels of World War II when a small-time New York hood's paranoia reaches the breaking point. Convinced that his girlfriend Anna is hiding something from him, Gus enlists his friend Tony, a shell-shocked veteran, to start tailing her, drawing him into a nightmarish triangle of obsession and betrayal. The Den Theatre dims the lights and breaks out the popcorn for this taut, edge-of your seat tale of mystery, romance and suspense...a rich and stylish throwback to the days of post-war intrigue and classic Hollywood filmmaking.

Thru - Mar 16, 2013

Price: $15-$25

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-697-3830

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins; no intermission

  City Of Dreadful Night Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Nigro has a ball with the hard-boiled banter. "You're gonna lull me into a false sense of security," one character notes, only to be greeted with the retort "Is there any other kind?" But the twists aren't sufficiently surprising to justify the irritating repetitions in the dialogue. And though director Ron Wells and his design team for Den Theatre have done a bang-up job in creating a simulacrum of Hopper's boxed-in compositions and shafts of light, they can't raise the script to the kind of mind-bending and gut-churning neo-noir familiar to fans of James Ellroy's "LA Confidential." Nigro knows how to imitate the looks and sounds of his inspirations cold. What "City of Dreadful Night" lacks is the creeping nihilism that gives the best noir its true sense of impending dread."
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Kerry Reid

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...As Tony's shell-shocked memory gradually revives, and Ben Hertel's seemingly innocent counterman is slowly revealed to be other than he appears, we are gradually drawn in by the serpentine trail of discoveries unspooling before us. We may giggle at wordplay heavy on atmosphere but light on content-"cherry pie" is particularly fraught with significance-in the early scenes, but as reversals come faster and identities are exposed, so riveting is the suspense that we sit in rapt silence right up to the tarnished-romantic denouement."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Fast-talking wiseguy Gus (Matthew Isler) asks his shell-shocked friend, Tony (Sam Guinan-Nyhart), to find out if his girlfriend, Anna (a sultry Justine C. Turner), is cheating on him. The trio becomes entangled in a web of deception stretching back to before the war. With everyone (including the waiter at the diner) hiding something, Nigro twists the story in so many ways the revelations start to lose their impact by the end. The war apparently gave everyone amnesia, and as the characters try to piece together the past, long-buried memories reveal themselves too conveniently."
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Oliver Sava

ShowBizChicago - Recommended

"...Henry Behel's sets, Cat Wilson's lighting and projections, Mikey Moran's sound, and Rachel S. Parent's costumes all seamlessly work together to take you out of the theatre proper to place you in a more cinematic environment. The only downfall is Nigro's script which too often gets caught up in overdoing the genre he pays tribute to by sacrificing the soul of the characters. Luckily the actors are able compensate and end up giving the patrons a unique theatre going experience."
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Michael J. Roberts

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...You could say The Den Theatre's devoutly noir treatment of Don Nigro's "City of Dreadful Night" is a picture of fine ensemble acting framed by sets, lighting and costumes that capture the story's 1940s mystery film flavor. Or you could say this stylish gem is just the coolest thing to hit a Chicago stage in many a half-lit, shadowy night."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...Without revealing more, trust me that you will be fully engaged as you try to guess what will happen next as the plot is woven into a mystery worthy of your attention. The look is accurate, the players fully committed, and writing is intricate. This is a stylish world premiere nicely paced and tightly directed by Ron Wells. Who doesn’t like a well-structured mystery? City of Dreadful Night is a terrific suspenseful work deserving of an audience."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"... The production is very tight and offers mystery fans a chance to start figuring out some clues that Nigro plants within the script. While tense, in most spots, there are some comical moments as we watch the characters intertwine with each other and start to understand just who is who and how they relate to each other."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...Under the direction of Ron Wells, this homage to film noir works. The story, as it gets revealed, keeps you interested in this wisely conceived ninety minute drama. He moved the actors well within the lighted parameters of some of the scenes. I especially loved some of the specials in the hallway and at the diner. Given the excellent atmospheric elements, the cast will only become more nuanced as the run progresses."
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Lazlo Collins

  City Of Dreadful Night 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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