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  J.B. at City Lit Theater


City Lit Theater
1020 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue Chicago

A modern retelling of the biblical Book of Job. J.B. is the happiest of men, and God's most loyal servant until God takes a bet from Satan that Satan can make JB so miserable JB will curse God.

Thru - Dec 10, 2017

Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-293-3682

  J.B. Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...This casting accentuates MacLeish's deft commentary on the suffering of the forgotten and slighted, and be they angels or devils, the characters all wrestle with the big questions with earnestness and wit. As Job (called J.B. here) says near the end by way of explaining why he never lost faith, "What suffers loves." Brian Pastor directed."
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Dmitry Samarov

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...For the theatergoer in the mood for eloquent verse and philosophical inquiry, City Lit's J.B. will quench the thirst. It is just the sort of play to plunge you into soul-searching discussions with friends afterward and quiet contemplations. And City Lit Theater should be commended for bringing this acclaimed drama back to a 21st-century audience with fluency, empathy and candor."
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James R. Wilke

Edge - Highly Recommended

"...In 1959, Archibald MacLeish's "J.B." drew not only the Pulitzer Prize for Drama but the Tony for best play. Set in free verse and based on the biblical story of Job, the play contemplates suffering, faith, love, guilt and the illusory notion of free will -- concepts that are, in theory, timeless, and in execution, too often reduced to trite, irrelevant fare. City Lit's excellent version, directed by Brian Pastor and featuring a cast comprised entirely of women over the age of 55, not only captures the mastery of the work itself, it delivers unique, ferocious commentary of its own."
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Christine Malcom

Theatre By Numbers - Recommended

"...No one is ever ready to face a hardship, but City Lit's "J.B." makes the case that when suffering occurs, the only action worth taking is making the choice to go on, whatever causes it. While actors can remove themselves from an illusion, J.B. the banker cannot, and the character's rejection of heaven and hell makes MacLeish's point that humans are strongest when taking on hardship without flinching."
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Sarah Bowden

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...A modern morality play worth a second coming, J.B. righty questions whether any luck is truly earned and excoriates the ugly relativity of fate. This litany of grief and woe is as anachronistic as Dorothy Parker’s deathless quip, “What fresh new hell approaches?” How we cope with calamity—defiance or resignation to irresistible or avoidable injustice—is a test that life refuses not to administer. You can take it here—from a safe distance."
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Lawrence Bommer

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Under Brian Pastor’s direction, a spare cast of nine women, all over the age of fifty-five, retell Job’s story with force and intelligence. Monday’s portrayal of J.B. balances stoic acceptance with a steady unraveling as his trials strain his beliefs, a pain more plainly expressed by Steele’s Sarah. Rivers and McCabe are equal parts foolish and terrifying in dialogues that recall the absurdity of “Waiting for Godot”’s Didi and Gogo and foreshadow Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.” The strength of the piece is in its language. In this, the ensemble rends the air roundly.'
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Irene Hsiao

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"... The play is smartly directed by Brian Pastor. It is done with a minimalist set that remains unchanged throughout the performance. The theater is small, comfortable, and cozy. And a few minutes into the production, one can feel the energy of the cast taking control of one’s senses. Fifty-five and older must be the new thirty. All in all, a delightful and amazing performance.'
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Scott Kirshenbaum

Irish American News - Highly Recommended

"...The wonder of words, is that when they are used correctly, they can stir our hearts and disturb our minds. J.B is a gem of a play, a diamond so hard it can crush the soul with its philosophical complexity, yet shaped by the skilled playwright can shine radiantly. Archibald MacLeish's drama is without doubt a masterpiece that takes the biblical story of Job and refashions it to become a modern quest to believe despite inexplicable suffering. MacLeish's J.B is a beautiful cut diamond. Each segment sparkles with wit, charm, and poetic soul."
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Terence Boyle

Third Coast Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...The performances are universally solid, anchoring a somewhat meandering narrative. The two leads and three others (the figures of history, science and religion) execute excellent mask work, giving the Biblical story a Greek chorus vibe. However, the choice to make the male characters speak in their lower registers was unnecessary-the gender fluidity would have been more effective if actors had been allowed to "just be.""
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Karin McKie

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...The Book of Job has always seemed to me the place in the Bible where God comes off the worst: to allow such things to occur for no reason at all to the best of his followers has always seemed capricious and shallow and ugly. All of that comes through in this play, and that Zuss clearly feels it too is a credit to Carlson's performance. Interestingly, Nickels also feels it, and McCabe captures his frustration perfectly. This is not a victory for anyone except the audience, who came to see a dynamite play and found exactly what they were looking for."
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Karen Topham

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