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  Mlima's Tale at Raven Theatre

Mlima's Tale

Raven Theatre
6157 N. Clark St Chicago

Taking us on a journey from the heart of Africa and around the world, MLIMA'S TALE is the story of Mlima, a magnificent elephant trapped in the clandestine international ivory market. Following a trail of greed and desire as old as trade itself, Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all. Nottage, who won the Pultizer Prize for her plays Ruined and Sweat, brings us a powerful story that makes us question whether unconditional virtue is nonexistent within the international system of economic power, culture and politics.

Presented by Griffin Theatre

Thru - Mar 8, 2020

Price: $38

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-338-2177

Running Time: 1hr, 35mins

Nearby Restaurants

  Mlima's Tale Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...This is not a play about a quest for survival, though. Mlima is no match for those who wish him ill. But this fiercely anti-poaching drama, Mlima cannot be confined by his own death. Even as those great ivory tusks pass through middle-men, shippers, buyers, aesthetes, government, bribers, Mlima continues to haunt part of his own body, a constant reminder of their culpability. You might think of this overtly political play, a consciousness-raising work designed to wake us all up the fate of many African elephants, as a conservationist’s revenge fantasy."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...As Mlima, David Goodloe carries the production, making the grand creature come alive through Nottage’s perfectly sculpted words and movement director Jacinda Ratcliffe’s expressive choreography. At lights up, Goodloe shows Mlima at the height of his powers, striding with intent, carefully listening to all that surrounds him. The scene is idyllic: Wild bird calls, rustling grasses and the magisterial bellows of Mlima himself evoke the vast grasslands where wild elephants live — and die. Mlima is killed in the first scene, shot by bow and arrow."
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Catey Sullivan

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...A tight, propulsive story, this production leverages a capable ensemble of six to bring to life the entire chain of events from Mlima's death in Kenya to the unveiling of an ivory carving in the home of a wealthy collector across the world."
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Marissa Oberlander

Theatre By Numbers - Highly Recommended

"...This production tells a complete and chilling tale about what is lost when we forget there are lives beyond our lives, and creatures and people that deserve protection beyond ourselves."
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Sarah Bowden

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Buoyed by phenomenal acting by David Goodloe and directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, “Mlima’s Tale” describes how animal poachers kill African elephants in violation of international law and work with smugglers and black marketeers to satisfy the demand for ivory, particularly in the Far East. The production is an amalgamation of Lynn Nottage’s highly cerebral script and the Griffin Theatre Company’s dramatics. A minimalist but appropriate set provides a splendid backdrop for a disturbing story that comes to life before us."
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Julia W. Rath

WTTW - Highly Recommended

"...To cut to the chase: “Mlima’s Tale,” Lynn Nottage’s 2018 play about the savage slaughter and potential decimation of Africa’s “big tusk” elephant population, and the illicit trade in ivory that drives it, is a stunning piece of work – equal parts poetry, ritual and an anatomy of corruption. And it is receiving a magnificent production by Griffin Theatre that does full justice to both the beauty and power of Nottage’s script, and the majestic creature whose tragic fate sets the story in motion."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This stunning production by Griffin Theatre is the auspicious Midwest Premiere of Lynn Nottage's allegorical drama about unconscionable greed. In Jerrell L. Henderson's impressive and profoundly imaginative production, theatergoers can't help but be moved by the performances of this brilliant cast and, long after the final curtain, will remain haunted by the piercing eyes of actor David Goodloe, as Mlima."
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Colin Douglas - Highly Recommended

"...Director Jerrell Henderson has done an excellent job using 6 actors (Lewon Johns, Michael Turrentine, Collin McShane, Ben Chang, Christopher Thomas Pow and Sarah Lo) to portray 18 characters in this tale of greed, treachery and ivory to stunning results. The ensemble was some of the best work I’ve seen from a cast. Special mention must go to Lewon Johns for his interpretation of a Nigerian Government Official. His accent and characterization were spot on, as was the entire cast. Scene and costume changes are done quickly and effortlessly making the 90-minute runtime flies by."
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Wesley David

Chicago Theater and Arts - Highly Recommended

"...This is an important story expertly told using creative stagecraft with an ensemble that is totally committed to what they are doing. The production includes some acts of violence which are effectively stylized and are not gratuitous or prurient."
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Reno Lovison

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...It takes many, many people (and some seriously greased palms) to make the ivory trade work, as Nottage's haunting and painful play makes clear. Even just watching it happen on stage, I felt that I had somehow been tainted by the vileness of it all as well. This is a play focused on an elephant, but its real targets are the despicable greed and misplaced pride of human beings that makes this sort of thing happen in the first place."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...Throughout “Mlima’s Tale,” we are implored to make better-informed decisions, challenge ourselves to consider the price we pay for beauty, and make a universal commitment to preserving our natural resources and the native habitat for endangered species to ensure that our fragile ecosystem survives–all powerful and important messages that demand our time and consideration."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Award-winning playwright Lynn Nottage has given us a wordy script. For this writer, it is more the brilliance of the physical theater add by Griffin that makes this must-see theater. If you feel comfortable with references to fracking as "provisional energy" this might not be your top pick. If you feel that you could find a place in a herd of elephants weeping for the planet and what man's greed has wrought, this is a top pick for your time."
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Amy Munice

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   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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