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  Natural Affection at Athenaeum Theatre

Natural Affection

Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Chicago

Awaiting the Christmas visit of her teenage son Donnie, Sue Barker is torn between motherly love and the fear of a disruption in the life that she has built in his absence. Having been deserted by the boy's father before his birth, Sue was forced to support herself, leaving Donnie to a childhood of orphan homes and ultimately a term at the penal farm. Now the head lingerie buyer for a Chicago department store, Sue has a small apartment and a lover, Bernie Slovenk. When Donnie announces that he will not have to go back to the farm if she will give him a home, the crisis is broached. The inescapable showdown comes on Christmas Eve when the couple from next door joins the others for a party. Rachel Lambert makes her Eclipse directorial debut. See Natural Affection at the Athenaeum Theatre Studio Three in Chicago.

Thru - May 20, 2018

Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-935-6875

Athenaeum Theatre Seating Chart

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  Natural Affection Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"...Joanne Iwanicka's set design, which nimbly evokes the very thin walls between these neighbors, steals the show by illustrating what the overwrought words cannot. Rachel Lambert directed."
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Dmitry Samarov

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Rachel Lambert’s staging makes the calamities count, refusing to condemn or condescend to Inge’s familiar yearners. Among a cunning cast, Coates is superb at conveying Sue’s deeply torn soul. Though too retroactively self-destructive and unprocessed in its pain to count as Inge’s best, Natural Affection (a title that contradicts itself) is catnip for eight actors and a crowd of grown-ups. The fact that it’s rarely done is no reason not to see it"
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Lawrence Boomer

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The events in the play can be simply characterized as the seeking and refusal of affection, but the details cut like razors: the way Donnie stutters and trembles when he gives his mother a gift, his childish optimism for new clothes and perhaps a new job, his rivalry with Bernie, how Sue tells him he smells just like the disinfectant in the air of the orphanage where he was raised. Everyone in this play is an addict, stuck on desires that can never be sated. “I wish I could have written a comedy, but I couldn’t at the time,” wrote Inge."
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Irene Hsiao

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...Natural Affection is an imperfect play. The characters are not fully fleshed out and there are bumpy transitions. It’s in some ways a tough play to watch. But it is interesting to see another side of William Inge. Here, he’s not the playwright of the Midwestern small town but a writer who explores big city troubles."
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Nancy Bishop

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...It is no wonder that Eclipse Theatre has chosen William Inge as their featured playwright of the year. Gil's soliloquy describing his depression alone makes this play important to stage--- it is quite a dramatic moment delivered perfectly by Wagner. Reading that Inge did eventually commit suicide suggests the entire Eclipse season will be similar pass-the-prozac fare."
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Amy Munice

  Natural Affection 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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