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  Ecstasy at A Red Orchid Theatre


A Red Orchid Theatre
1531 N. Wells Street Chicago

An intensely naturalistic and darkly comic portrait of gloom and joy, Ecstasy is the story of six sharply drawn characters and their struggle against despair one evening in a run-down London flat.

Presented by Cole Theatre

Thru - Sep 28, 2014

Price: $15-$25

Show Type: Dark Comedy

Box Office: 312-943-8722

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

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  Ecstasy Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"..."Ecstasy" is a seemingly simple drama that captures what it was like to be young and poor in the Britain of the late 1970s, perhaps better than any other play. If you have never seen this early Leigh creation, you can do so here in the company of skilled actors who don't fully find the working-class identities of these lost souls, but who embrace their situation with empathy and passion."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Not only has the company assembled an ideal cast for this brutally honest look at a group of friends in a tattered London neighborhood whose lives are anything but ideal. But they've turned to director Shade Murray, whose 2010 production of another Leighs play, "Abigail's Party" (at A Red Orchid Theatre, whose space the company is now renting), was a blackly comic gem. And once again he demonstrates his flair for orchestrating the alternately quiet and raucous desperation of people who very likely will never find their way to a better existence (though given how much they drink and smoke, they probably won't set records for longevity anyway). Murray and his actor also capture that improvisational quality that is crucial to Leigh's work."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The Cole Theatre ensemble, making its debut under the direction of Shade Murray, immerses us in the microcosmic environment of our characters ( which occasionally encompasses a casual racist remark or juvenile toilet joke ), their scene-study expertise crafting from Leigh's minimalist dialogue and heavy regional accents a history steeped in fierce loyalty that all but shimmers with the defiance of hardscrabble innocents determined to be happy despite their restricted choices. At the conclusion of the visit, we might still be glad we aren't them, but we don't regret a single moment spent in their company."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Director Shade Murray and his cast navigate this emotional squalor marvelously; Kidwell sketches Jean's passive, resigned intake of everything that's asked of her with heartrending honesty, and Manzer plays Len's tender timidity with endearing care. Scenic designer Grant Sabin's grubby little room makes good use of the close confines of A Red Orchid Theatre, which Cole has rented for its production, to tell us everything we need to know about these characters' station."
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Kris Vire

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...With Ecstasy, now being revived at A Red Orchid Theatre, a new Chicago theater succeeds at first: Cole Theatre Company establishes its roots in realism with a play that's older than most of the actors. Made famous in 1997 by Roadworks Productions' trenchant Midwest premiere of this potent work by English playwright/film director Mike Leigh (Abigail's Party, Secrets & Lies, All or Nothing, Life Is Sweet) exposes the dead-end lives of twenty-something Brits, here gathered in North London from all parts of the queendom. Much like Steppenwolf Theatre's recent This Is Our Youth, Ecstasy is an action portrait of dead-end slackers cracking up on their own contradictions."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Ecstasy is a near miss for Cole Theatre. The acting was truthful, the cast worked hard, espcially Maura Kidwell , Boyd Harris and Michaela Petro. If only the women would tone down the accents and speak slower, Ecstasy would emerge as stage worthy."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Ecstasy is a good start for Cole, which will have its work cut out to distinguish themselves from similarly strong acting ensembles in the city. But it is a handsome production, and deserves your support."

David Zak

Around The Town Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...I am not sure if this was the best selection for a new company to make for their first. It is weak in story despite having some solid actors. Again, why do we have to have this story be in England? Why do they need to have thick accents? There are many places in the world that can be used to demonstrate lower economic status and reaching for a better life. Even then, the play does not get to the actual point of what it is supposed to and if Cole Theatre continues to keep "Victory of the people" as its theme, they better find scripts that really show this."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...For a brand new company, this theatre group bursts forth with admirable polish and energy. Hopefully they’ll be able to follow up with another well-executed production that will prove to Chicago audiences that this is an Equity company to be taken seriously. Certainly their premier production demonstrates a solid beginning, well-directed and competently acted and produced, while challenging its members and audiences with material that’s a cut above the norm. Hopefully the ecstasy will continue to surpass all the agony."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...ECSTASY is an ambitious and aggressive inaugural production for Cole Theatre... just even from a dialect standpoint. Leigh requires the play be performed in dialects covering the regions of Birmingham, County Cork, rural Lincolnshire and inner North London. Special kudos to Dialect Coach Elise Kauzlaric facilitating the multiple accents. Along with the dialect coach, the script, the direction, the cast make this show a winner. If "Cole" is Greek for "people's victory," I hope ECSTASY is the first of many coles for this new theatre company."
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Katy Walsh

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