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  Lela and Co. Reviews
Lela and Co.
Lela and Co.

Lela and Co.
Steep Theatre
Thru - Sep 16, 2017

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Steep Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...The director, Robin Witt, embraces the most difficult aspect of this evening: The play's insistence that the story you are hearing is complicated, engrossing and even, in moments, enjoyable. That's because Lynn is writing about the collision of terrible circumstances and a vibrant human spirit. And that's exactly what the performance by Gonzalez-Cadel communicates."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...It is often said that "the first casualty of war is truth." But I would argue that the first casualty is almost always women. And should you need further evidence of the phenomenon I offer as "Exhibit A" one of the more harrowing plays to be written on the subject - British playwright Cordelia Lynn's "Lela & Co.""
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Hedy Weiss



Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...Chmelik, who appears in passing as a host of brutal men from Lela's earlier life in addition to the husband, is at his magnificent best as a kind but conflicted soldier who befriends Lela but shies away from helping her. Less of a story than a call to action and though impossible to love, Lela isn't easily forgotten."
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Max Maller



Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Lynn's script manages a trick that many plays fumble, which is to create a timeless and unspecified setting-one that has a real sense of place without ever dropping a pin down on the map. Lela is from an unspecified country, from an area where there are mountains, and she moves to the country next door to live with her sister and her brother-in-law. In this country, there is a war, one that her brother-in-law and his friend, Lela's future husband, profit quite nicely from. There are foreign occupiers that create a "transition government" once the war is over. There are conflicts on the border and a thriving black market-an exchange on which Lela soon finds her body being bought and sold."
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Alex Huntsberger



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...The play ends on a reflective note, as Lela seeks to move on with life without relinquishing her history. But the preceding tale is so lurid and the encounters with men so traumatizing that Lela's effort to reconcile and re-normalize seems like a tacked-on semi-happy ending. In underscoring the play's message, the author turns her characters into cartoons and her story into a telenovela. In the end, the work comes off as oddly old-fashioned-not so much a modern feminist fable as a Victorian melodrama about sin and redemption among the backward natives."
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Hugh Iglarsh



Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Lynn's script, based on a true story of one woman's experience, provides frequent bits of humor. Lela is constantly interrupted and undermined by men. Gonzalez-Cadel's performance is riveting, ranging from sweetness to quiet anger to despair as her life becomes more and more horrifying. Chmelik also excels playing the men in Lela's life."
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Nancy Bishop



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...Lela tells her story with grace and spirit, somehow managing to inject humor into her story even as her words grow more and more horrifying. Cordelia Lynnís spectacularly emotional script pairs well with Robin Wittís intricate directing. As Lela speaks she moves around the room, addressing specific audience members, sitting on couches, at one point even standing on a table. Lighting designer Brandon Wardell accompanies her movements with perfectly crafted lighting choices, capturing the mood of the story at every moment."
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Katherine Foley



The Hawk Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...It was, in short, one of the most remarkable and poignant pieces of Chicago theatre I have seen--a production which reminds us that the "truth" or, for that matter, "history," is oftentimes determined by those in power. "
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Emily Schmidt