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  Pill Hill Reviews
Pill Hill
Pill Hill

Pill Hill
eta Creative Arts Foundation
Thru - Aug 9, 2009

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eta Creative Arts Foundation

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...The 1988 script by Samuel L. Kelly (like August Wilson, a protege of Lloyd Richards at Yale) isn't perfect: the most interesting character, a successful lawyer, is also the most erratically written. But otherwise the scenes ring true in their carefully differentiated characters, historically layered delineations of racial prejudice, and sense of loss as the friends grow apart. Director Aaron Todd Douglas elicits lively ensemble work, and costume designer Ari Fulton has a great time with the period, character-perfect threads."
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Laura Molzahn



Windy City Times- Recommended

"...ETA director Aaron Todd Douglas has assembled a cast adept at concealing Kelley's symposial text under a veneer of masculine camaraderie as immediately engaging as it is convincing. ( When Joe, on the eve of eviction, cries out to his former chums, "Take me with you," his despair, and that of the friends who must leave him behind, is enough to break your heart. ) Likewise commendable is the technical team whose stage dressing reflects in pinpoint-accurate detail the progress of these pilgrims in their search for economic sanctuary."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Time Out Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Too often, though, Pill Hill sells the individuality of its characters short. Kelley wrote the play during his time in Yale’s M.F.A. program, and the work is neatly structured to a fault. When we first meet Joe (Roston), he’s planning to leave the mill behind for college. But as Ed (Peeples), newly enrolled at Northwestern, presses him, Joe hedges: He wants to keep his job for at least a few more weeks. As the same conversation repeats itself throughout the play, the pattern seems less a revelation about Joe’s fatal self-doubt than the mark of a heavy authorial hand."
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John Beer



ChicagoCritic- Not Recommended

"...Playwright Samuel L. Kelley has an interesting premise, but does not stray from the path of obvious. Within the first fifteen minutes I knew where the play was going, but it took over two hours to get to an undeserved climax. Director Aaron Todd Douglas, inspired enthusiastic ensemble work, but did very little to fix the writing flaws. Kelley writes character types (the nerd, the old timer, the fallen athlete, the family man), and they are directed to be heightened stereotypes as seen in a 70’s sitcom."
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Chris Arnold



Chicago Theater Beat- Highly Recommended

"...It is my hope that theatergoers who are familiar with the north side will head south to see this magnificent production. Douglas and cast strike the right balance between playfulness and tension, humor and anger, yearning, helplessness, and hope. While some dialogue may be stilted, Sam Kelley’s work truly ranks with other dramas that critique the American Dream, like Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman or David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Whatever its limits, this play examines something that the previous two works do not. It explores the modern day tests that are put to an African American brotherhood that is, all at once, flawed, endangered, compassionate, and powerful."

Scotty Zacher