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  Lay Me Down Softly at The Den Theatre

Lay Me Down Softly

The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

Early 1960s. Delaney's Traveling Roadshow tours the Irish countryside with bumper cars, bearded ladies, rifle ranges and the main attraction: the boxing ring. The Roadshow invites all comers to fight them to win a prize. Theo, the iron fisted patriarch, struggles to keep his crew in line and when his long abandoned daughter arrives, the patchwork family is thrown against the ropes.

Presented by Seanachaí Theatre Company

Thru - May 25, 2014

Price: $12-$30

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 773-697-3830

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

  Lay Me Down Softly Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Kevin Christopher Fox's direction and the nimble cast tease out a warm, bittersweet character study of people who are never entirely at home in their own skins, fearful of both commitment and of escape. And once you surrender to the rough-hewn rhythms of Roche's Wexford locutions, the show works its charms slowly but surely."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...This is certainly not all that transpires here, but it suggests the essential catalytic elements at play. And the actors - each of them pure perfection, but also a model of ensemble synergy - not only live in the immediate moment of their characters' lives, but magically suggest the years of rage, disappointment, frustration and loss that have made them who they are. (They also sustain their Irish accents with impressive skill, and when it comes time to do battle, John Tovar's fight choreography and Al Ortiz's boxing coaching deliver added authenticity.)"
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...In the absence of surprises, the piece stands or falls depending on how we feel about the characters. Kevin Christopher Fox's staging for Seanachai Theatre Company offers quietly vivid performances by Dan Waller as Junior and Michael Grant as Peadar. And Matthew Isler deserves credit for selflessly making Killer as annoying as possible. But Jamie L. Young leaves a crucial blank where Emer should be, and Jeff Christian is cartoonishly gruff as Theo."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Roche's intimate scrutiny of the small life-changing decisions affecting the destinies of common folk may seem drab to those with a low tolerance for sentimentality, but under Kevin Christopher Fox's understated direction, the Seanachai ensemble conjures vivid personalities whose unspoken backstories ( could Peader be Emer's real father? What led Junior to his career in the ring? ) inspire mystery and enchantment holding us rapt for the two hours that we view this sepia-toned portrait of a subculture that outsiders rarely see."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Gapers Block - Highly Recommended

"...John Tovar choreographs the excellent fight scenes that play out well in Joe Schermoly's realistically shanty set design. Eva Breneman's dialect coaching serves to actors well, and they stay in character throughout the tense scenes. Young makes Emer's transformation from the girl of the past into the calculating and confident woman of the present and future so smooth that Dean doesn't know what hit him. Director Kevin Christopher Fox's production is a great reminder that what's abandoned on the side of the road may come back to haunt us when the wind shifts."
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Alice Singleton

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Yet critically, the play maintains a subtle edge through its violence. With four trained fighters and two fierce women, there is always the possibility of blows. There's idle talk over what each might fight for, and there are moments of chaos where ugly and pathetic anger has to be held in check. The longer the play goes, there's no question in your mind: The story will turn on when that punch is finally thrown, and what it's for. Lay Me Down Softly saves it for the right reason at the right moment. It turns out there was a hero among them, but you won't know who until the end."
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Kevin Thomas

Chicago On the Aisle - Not Recommended

"...I liked this show best for its technical elements: Joe Schermoly’s roughhewn boxing ring and much-pummeled body bag, Julian Pike’s lighting, Beth Laske-Miller’s blend of costumes. Not sure what corners of Ireland (or Illinois) the actors’ sundry dialects represented. They were oddly emblematic of this entire effort: scattered."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...Lay Me Down Softly offers enough charm and surprises to keep ones attention. It also does well the little things (such as a wonderful scene involving Dan Waller being able to identifying, from a simple sip, exactly what part of Ireland a bottle of milk came from). And like a journey man fighter, this play does not pull back in its punches."
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Noel Schecter

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...I enjoyed this wonderfully gritty drama that is very Irish in spirit but universal in tone and meaning. The acting was superb. Jeff Christian led the way as the emotionally explosive patriarch while Michael Grant was the stady, level-headed cut man. Matthew Isler presented Dean as the obnoxious, mouthy pugilist. Carolyn Klein is the cynical, tough woman who is Theo's equal while Dan Waller is the ex-boxer who still wants to prove that he still can fight. Jamie L. Young is the teen daughter who is curious about her father and his way of life. She seeks romance and acceptance."
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Tom Wiliiams

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...The acting is strong, delivering a terrific full ensemble performance. Every member of the ensemble created strong individual characters with depth and reason to care about them. It is the females in this play that stir the plot up, and these roles are filled by strong actors, especially Carolyn Klein, who has an extraordinary presence on stage. The actors also play a big role in transporting the audience to 1960's rural Ireland. Their accents (perfectly understandable) and body language whisk you away to Delaney's Traveling Road Show and let you watch the internal workings of friends, family and boxing."

Timothy McGuire

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...Lay Me Down Softly is filled with enough detail and subtlety to instill real life into The Academy. The opening scene shows Paeder and Junior slowly building the boxing ring, methodically tightening the ropes while Theo counts his earnings and grunts instructions, aptly establishing some of the underlying dynamics between the characters. Later, Emer cautiously holds the hammer to the start the bell for the fight, establishing a rare tender moment between father and daughter. These details not only make us a part of the road show's family, but also show us that there's a lot going on behind the scenes of any attraction. They insist that life and its most important fights happen outside of the ring."
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Ivy Perez

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY does just that. It comes out hard punching, jabbing and weaving. And then lays down softly... and slowly. Still, the show is enjoyable for a peek into the types of characters who run away to the circus."
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Katy Walsh

  Lay Me Down Softly Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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