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  Hellish Half-Light at Angel Island Theater

Hellish Half-Light

Angel Island Theater
731 W. Sheridan Chicago

Six actors assume multiple roles as six of Samuel Beckett's shorter works are staged together in one theatrical experience, in which audience members and characters seamlessly share the same space. The six shorts include Castastrophe, Come and Go, Play, Rough For Theater I, Rough For Theater II and What Where: an autocratic director and his assistant put the final touches on the last moment of a play that consists entirely of a man standing still onstage; three women of indeterminable age sit quietly together on a bench surrounded by darkness, whispering secrets to each other; a man, his wife and his mistress, each imprisoned in individual urns, are held captive by an interrogating, hellish half-light; on a derelict street corner, a man in a wheelchair meets a blind beggar; two bureaucrats search through papers and testimony used to decide the fate of the man standing at a window, posed to jump; and an interrogator engages in self-reflection by directing a memory to perform.

Thru - Aug 30, 2014

Price: $10-$25

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-871-0442

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins; no intermission

  Hellish Half-Light Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"..."Play," which is one of Beckett's most famous - three actors up to their necks in urns, trapped in one of those limbos Beckett always loved - is the weak spot of the night. It is notoriously hard to perform and just as hard to absorb as a member of the audience. The dialogue is meant to be performed motionless but at a rapid clip, and even if you've never read the script and can't keep up with the tumble of words (which concern a straightforward love triangle, morphing into an existential malaise and then doubling back on itself) you should be able to hear snippets that offer clues within the musicality of the chatter. That doesn't happen enough here; the actors tend to swallow their words. It doesn't help that it's performed in the round."
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Nina Metz

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Overtly political metaphors may be imposed on the episode depicting jailers who, one by one, find themselves reduced to prisoners, as well as the auteurist director whose guidance transforms his leading man's stance from heroic to submissive. The finale, by contrast, is rooted firmly in the domestic sphere, as a trio of literal talking heads, their bodies encased in what might be crematory urns, recounts a tale of romantic betrayal at warp speed. Since they are mounted on revolving wagons, every corner of the room becomes privy to-well, part of the evidence."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...It would be easy to mistake another rarely performed work, What Where, for something by Harold Pinter. In a totalitarian society, Bam (Kathrynne Wolf) follows her voice's (Lauren Guglielmello) instructions to interrogate and torture her own followers in a cannibalistic bout of paranoia and control. For these plays, the words and the performances speak for themselves, but Markowitz's decision to stage everything in the round is an odd one—putting audience members so visibly in the action more often distracts from the happenings onstage instead of adding to them."
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Dan Jakes

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...If you are a fan of Salvador Dali, HR Geiger, if surrealism is your cup of tea, then you need to see this show. Arrive late and take the seating on stage, the actors move around you completely immersing you in the show. Each piece the ensemble brings to you six in all is once step on a twisting staircase lower into the abyss that is the human condition."
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Dave McGuire

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Hellish Half-Light: Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett is mainly, if not only, for those who know the longer plays. There's no context for these hit-and-run dramatic detonations. Maddeningly, they exist to vanish. Beckett wants to see how close theater can come to the silence of death without disappearing altogether. He sadly succeeds."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Who is the audience for this? If you like stories with a beginning, middle and end then this isn't for you. But if you enjoy a show with strong, confident performers creating art then you should see this show. I may be in the minority by liking this show but that is my view. I'm a new kid from North Carolina with an opinion to share. My first play in Chicago makes me want more. Now, I'm going to try some macaroni and cheese for the first time in 20 years."
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Hunter Boyette

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...The best thing about it is that through all the doom and gloom of the text, there is so much humor to be found. I laughed out loud numerous times. Some of the pieces are too lengthy, and a bit obvious. Beckett is not for everyone, but if you have acquired that taste, you will find this show very satisfying."

Will Cameron

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...The last two pieces were my speed bump. "What Where" is this quirky sci-fi tale. I didn't care for the blunt futuristic nature. The last play, ironically "Play," seems like something I would enjoy. Galvan, Guglielmello, and Wolf are these heads on pillars. In perfect synchronization, they take turns recollecting an incident. The problem is they are in a circle as is the audience. Galvan is facing my side of the theatre. I only can decipher what he is saying. Between the air conditioning and the acoustics, I miss 2/3 of the narrative. At one point their circle is turned, now I still hear Galvan plus the gal facing me but I'm missing the other 1/3. And having missed most of the first half, I'm detached. The innovative theatrics are flawed."
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Katy Walsh

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