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How A Boy Falls
How A Boy Falls

How A Boy Falls
Northlight Theatre
Thru - Feb 29, 2020

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Show Information

Northlight Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...But there also is a certainly flatness to some of the acting here, a lack of necessary specificity, as if everyone had decided they were in a genre piece and that freed them from the demands of emotional reality. In more than one scene here, some stunning reversal of circumstance or fortune is imparted, only for the receiving character to react with an almost clinical nonchalance. That's always a danger with shows where not everything is clear and actors easily can find themselves playing the end of the show, far ahead of an audience which is dealing with all everything in time both real and unforgiving."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Somewhat Recommended

"...But, despite Dietz’s crafty and ultra-twisty storytelling and the worthy efforts of the actors involved, what we get never becomes a drippingly atmospheric tale of suspenseful truth-seeking and entertaining unlayering. With characters whose histories never really do become both clear and convincing, who never emerge from feeling like manipulated pieces in a playwright’s puzzle, we end up with a shiveringly chilly work that feels slick but not fully involving."
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Steven Oxman

Daily Herald- Somewhat Recommended

"...Steven Dietz's thriller "How a Boy Falls" is unquestionably gripping in Northlight Theatre's super-sleek world premiere. But lasting just under 80 minutes without intermission, the drama also feels rushed as it speeds toward a too-tidy conclusion."
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Scott C. Morgan

Chicago Reader- Not Recommended

"...The show's director, Halena Kays, seems utterly unable to find any drama in this drama. Nor do her actors; in the hands of this cast Dietz's words are rarely anything more than a 75-minute acting exercise. Of the five members of this ensemble, only Cassidy Slaughter-Mason is able to give her character—a shady, negligent au pair—the illusion of depth. The rest of the cast could be played by puppets, and nothing would be lost. In fact, this play might work better with puppets. On second thought: no, it wouldn't. "
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Jack Helbig

Windy City Times- Somewhat Recommended

"...The too much part is the speed and number of twists, reversals and revelations, although Dietz is a clever puzzle master and the rapid-fire plot holds audience attention. How A Boy Falls is good theater in terms of devices and mechanics. But it's too little because hardly any time is devoted to character development. The people you should care about—Chelle primarily but possibly Sam and Miranda—never give enough of themselves emotionally for a viewer to connect. In the end, Chelle is as callous as Paul ( the play's fall guy ), although she gets away clean and he doesn't. I don't think the audience would mind if the play were 12 minutes longer, with that time devoted to character-building and deeper exposition. Also, the amusing dichotomy between Sam and Paul—one loves a paper trail, the other loathes it—could be exploited more."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...The allure of Dietz's How A Boy Falls is the all of the characters are disingenuous, and you are never sure who's doing what or where the real guilt lies. How A Boy Falls is a thriller worth investigating."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...If you are a mystery buff, you will want to see the World Premiere of "How A Boy Falls" now on the stage at Northlight Theatre. This is a 75 minute thriller written by Steven Dietz and directed to perfection by Halena Kays. The set is designed to be a wonderful home with a balcony overlooking the water as well as a coffee shop, a park bench and more. Lizzie Bracken's design is just perfect with the one exception. If you are sitting in the first row, viewing the balcony scenes can be a pain in the neck ( in reality, a strain of the neck)."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite the contrivance, the play keeps our attention for most of its seventy-five-minute length, thanks to Kay's swift scene-to-scene movement and Rick Sims' subtly spine-tingling musical score. But the whole fragile structure comes tumbling down at the end. The work closes on a note of baffling anti-climax, leaving behind a wreckage of logic, motivation and poetic justice, as duplicity is rewarded and sincerity and loyalty are not."
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Hugh Iglarsh

Chicago Theatre Review- Somewhat Recommended

"...With so many excellent plays and musicals opening after the holidays, theatres are, as always, vying for every patron. This new offering by popular, prolific playwright, Steven Dietz, is captivating but somewhat unfulfilling. A good thriller should do just that: it should thrill. This script offers many twists and turns like you’d find in any good thriller. But, when all is said and done, the audience may be left with little to take home. Despite excellent actors, fine direction and a stunning scenic and sound design, by Lizzie Bracken and Rick Sims, respectively, this mystery play just isn’t as thrilling as audiences might be expecting."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Somewhat Recommended

"...Ultimately, "How a Boy Falls" is a suspense play that offers only modest suspense and characters who aren't particularly interesting. A few days earlier I saw a splendid revival of Agatha Christie's suspense melodrama "The Mousetrap" at the Court Theatre. Like the Dietz play, "The Mousetrap" deals in a cluster of characters who aren't who they first seem to be. But the characters in "The Mousetrap" are colorful and the plot is filled with atmosphere and deft misdirection. "How a Boy Falls" mostly just offers perplexity. And the play's title is a pun on the storyline that doesn't work."
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Dan Zeff

Chicago On Stage- Somewhat Recommended

"...Steven Dietz’s How a Boy Falls is a moody, twisty little mystery-thriller, but unfortunately not one in which it is easy to become invested. This may have to do with its running time, which I was told upon entering would be 90 minutes. Too bad it wasn’t: lasting only 75 minutes, this play felt rushed, and another fifteen minutes might have been very useful to allow its characters and complicated plotline time to fully coalesce. As it is, we have the theatrical equivalent of coffee that has not had time to perk: nicely hot and smelling wonderful, but far too thin to satisfy."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...Halena Kays directs this 75-minute yarn with brisk efficiency, in this reviewer's opinion. Yet, the production design doesn't quite support the cast's well-defined characterizations. Though Rick Sims' sound effects indicate the water below, the set and lighting do not build on its glorious but perilous presence. Fortunately, Dietz's script pulls us into his psychological thriller like an Artful Dodger who keeps us guessing about which wallet - which virtual identity card - he'll pick next."
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Susan Lieberman