Chicago Tribune - Recommended
"...One of Halberstam's great strengths is his ability to enliven and shape theatrical matter without being so radical that you feel the literary values have been compromised. Ergo, the storytelling here is both reflective and freshly clear. And this affair -- ideal for older teens -- isn't boring for even a second. The theatrical ideas are varied and creative."
Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended
"...What a stunner. Leave it to adapter-director Michael Halberstam and his Writers' Theatre to reinvent Jacobean tragedy and to give "The Duchess of Malfi," John Webster's rarely revived early 17th century play, a new lease on life. Not since Julie Taymor worked wonders with her film version of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" has this kind of drama -- with its house of human perversity and its blood feasts -- been so thrillingly and movingly imagined."
Pioneer Press - Highly Recommended
"...Halberstam says "The Duchess of Malfi" fulfills his desire to present lesser-known plays by other writers of Shakespeare's time. As this drama reaches its stunning climax, one can only hope Halberstam brings many more lost gems back to life."
Chicago Reader - Not Recommended
"...Funny, sympathetic, weirdly decent, utterly damned, Bosola is the prototype of the modern war criminal: a circumstantial monster. Matt Kozlowski manages this epic character's endearing qualities but not the darkness. Like practically everyone else in this tepid staging, he fails to express moral violence. Without bold performances, Michael Halberstam's highly stylized, Bunraku-influenced production ends up looking merely tricked out."
Windy City Times - Somewhat Recommended
"...The Duchess of Malfi is intelligently and creatively rendered at Writers’ Theatre, but doesn’t achieve the primal power that’s kept it in the repertory for 393 years."
Chicago Free Press - Somewhat Recommended
"...There are a few striking images in the production. The hanging of the Duchess, the final appearance of her young son, a puppet and the creepy stagehands giving the impression they are alert to all of the characters’ secrets make a strong impression.
Yet there are far more times when the visual design of the production perplexes or distracts."
Time Out Chicago - Not Recommended
"...Regrettably, the company’s creative resources have been spent not on textual study or impassioned performances, but flashy accessories: techno music played between scenes; brightly colored, irregularly cut costumes; mimed sex; and black-clad ninja-looking stagehands who moodily (and risibly) slink around the stage. Yet none of these add-ons illuminates the play."
ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended
"...The Duchess of Malfi uses puppetry, sound effects and shadows together with echoes to further the atmosphere of doom and dread. This engrossing show is a thriller with unpredictable plot twists and shocking violence that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. The stage combat was scary and nicely performed. It is refreshing to see a remount of a Jacobean era play so finely crafted that it impresses even the most sophisticated theatre patron."
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Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended
"...Elizabeth Rich makes a strong, sensual and compelling heroine, and her scenes with debonair and distinguished James Meredith sizzle with potent chemistry. Christopher McLinden and Nick Sandys are appropriately dastardly and amoral one-note bad guys. Jennifer Avery and La Shawn Banks offer superb support as faithful confidantes to the Duchess and Antonio. And Matt Kozlowski invests the treacherous mercenary Bosola with genuine moral ambiguity. Yet one has to wonder why such talent has been labored on this justifiably forgotten relic."