Chicago is "The City That Works"-but does it work for everybody? It's 1981, the city's simmering pot of neglected problems boils over, and Chicago's first woman mayor is moving into Cabrini-Green. Is this just a P.R. stunt, or will it bring the City together? For the next three weeks, residents, activists, media, the "Machine," and the Mayor herself will collide as the City's raw truths are exposed. Who will come out on top in Lookingglass Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks' exciting new work, Her Honor Jane Byrne?
"...Its heart (unfinished) lies in its admiration for the people on the ground and its determination to tell their story with eloquence and understanding in as much of its complexity as a night of theater on Michigan Avenue possibly can muster. You could see the beginning of a movie here, or a cable drama series with multiple protagonists and storylines. You could imagine Brooks carrying on with this project and coming to see that she barely needs Byrne at all. Just Cabrini and what it means."
"...Now in its world premiere at Lookingglass Theatre, Brooks’ “Her Honor Jane Byrne” is packed with history, woven into a story that presents Cabrini-Green as a community rather than a monolith of crime. Byrne thought she had a solution that would diminish crime in Cabrini-Green and bolster her political power. She moved into a unit at 1160 N. Sedgwick, bringing a wealth of city services with her and pledging to stay “as long as it takes” to make significant change."
"...The entire ensemble, directed by Brooks, makes these characters all larger than life, and yet entirely relatable and human. (Well, other than Nall's mobster Tony Spilotro, whom Dunford's Byrne calls in Palm Springs late one night to warn about getting his drugs out of the projects, and who is suitably cold-blooded.) Almost nobody in this story created the conditions they're dealing with, and though Byrne's miscalculations around what it takes to fix the problems feel painful, Brooks doesn't demand that we view her as a cynical woman. Rather, she allows Byrne and everyone else who crosses paths here to be full of life, flawed, and unapologetic."
"...Lookingglass Theatre presents the world premiere of 'Her Honor: Jane Byrne' written by Ensemble Member J. Nicole Brooks.' It tells the story about Byrne moving into Cabrini Green in March 1981. The play is filled with political drama and focuses on the stigma of African-Americans living in public housing."
"...But the world of this play is one you absolutely want to spend a few hours in. The ensemble members play multiple roles across the show, including standout performances from Robert Cornelius, Renee Lockett and Thomas J. Cox. And the design elements (most notably Yu Shibagaki’s scenic design and Christine A. Binder’s lighting design) create a playing space fit for a sprawling epic."
"...A well-meaning symbolic effort in the quest for change, or an attention-getting piece of pure political performance art? That is the question. And it is explored to simultaneously electrifying and profoundly humanizing effect in Lookingglass Theatre's dazzlingly performed world premiere production of "Her Honor Jane Byrne," a theatrical and sociological gem of a work that should catapult its writer-director, ensemble member J. Nicole Brooks, to genuine fame."
"...Byrne succeeded in attracting media attention and minor improvements, but there was virtually no long-lasting impact, as evidenced in the fateful storyline of Foley’s family and through Stamps’s defiance, which led to a violent protest during an ill-conceived Easter celebration. This is gripping drama, with glimpses of Byrne haunted by the tragic death of her first husband, which is mirrored in the loss of Che’s brother and, ultimately, in the stark, tragic and pointless murder that unfolds on the streets. Grief and loss, it seems, have no social, ethical or racial boundaries."