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  Plainsong at Signal Ensemble Theatre


Signal Ensemble Theatre
1802 West Berenice Ave Chicago

Deep in the plains of eastern Colorado lies a town called Holt. It's not a busy town, but there's a lot going on. Tom Guthrie is raising two young sons as his wife steps deeper into depression. Victoria Roubideaux finds herself seventeen, pregnant and desperate, turning to schoolteacher Maggie Jones for help. And the solitary ranching brothers Harold and Raymond McPheron aren't at all prepared for the ways they'll be involved. Eric Schmiedl's adaptation of Kent Haruf's National Book Award finalist is a sweeping, even-handed treatment of humanity in a small plains town.

Thru - Mar 8, 2014

Price: $20

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-347-1350

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

  Plainsong Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...But in small telling moments, the characters reveal themselves and make us care. Stenholt, a senior at Maine West who already has a few off-Loop credits, offers an astonishingly assured and sensitive take on Victoria. Manning and Edwards make the young Guthrie boys wise beyond their years without seeming cloying or precocious."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...All this might sound like more than enough to command your attention and grab your heart. But under the wonderfully natural, unaffected direction of Bries Vannon, the cast of 18 (several of whom play multiple roles) supplies what feels like a whole town of restless souls, each caught up in personal crises."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...But Haruf's writing is so flat and his characters so cliched that the town's intrigue feels like, well, bad fiction. Director Bries Vannon's intimate, low-key Signal Ensemble production, adapted for the stage by Eric Schmiedl, has moments of genuine warmth, but its unvaried rhythm and excessive, scattershot narration make for a wearing two and a half hours."
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Justin Hayford

Centerstage - Recommended

"...Credit then goes to playwright Eric Shmiedl for seeing the novel’s potential as a play and for penning the adaptation currently onstage at Signal Ensemble Theatre. And credit must also go to director Bries Vannon and the wonderful cast for imbuing their production with a tender warmth that last long after the audience has departed for the evening."

Alex Huntsberger

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...And while the interconnectedness of the whole town's stories and the just-so nature of their presentation seems part of Haruf's point, many of the characters on the edges are given too short shrift in Schmiedl's adaptation: Rudy Galvan's high-school bully and his indulgent parents (Philip Winston and Mary Jo Bolduc), Sara Gorsky's school secretary and Bolduc's priggish Denver aunt to Ike and Bobbie all feel underdeveloped, as does Maggie's underwritten romance with Tom. Still, Vannon's inclusive staging makes us feel a part of the neighborly action while mostly avoiding oversentimentality."
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Kris Vire

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...The play covers much and the scene changes are smooth on the interesting rural-evoked set by Buck Blue. The acting is fine, especially by the always reliable Joesph Stearns with cute performances by the two youngsters Cale Manning and Jack Edwards. Katie Worthington, Elizabeth Stenholt and Barbara Roeder Harris did terrific work while Vincent Longergan and Jon Steinhagen were precious as the two shy bachelors."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...If you are looking for edgy newness, or a story told in any unusual way, “Plainsong” may not be the route to take. But this story is a satisfying heartfelt journey, which will leave you with contemplative warm feelings to carry to your own “town’s people”, wherever they m, ay reside."
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The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"... This large ensemble morphs into a strong community in their storytelling.  It’s not a page turner as much as a story to savor.  The conflicts are relatable.  There is either a charming small-town fix or deep-rooted small-town defect.  Life is told to imperfect perfection in PLAINSONG.   "

Katy Walsh

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