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  The Master and Margarita at Strawdog Theatre

The Master and Margarita

Strawdog Theatre
1802 W. Berenice Chicago

"The Master and Margarita," is a phantasmagorical ride through Stalinist Russia. The Master, a playwright trying desperately to get his script about Jesus and Pontius Pilate produced, fights with Theatre Critics and Cultural Commissars at every turn. He is driven to the edge of a despair so deep that not even his lover Margarita can reach him. Into the middle of this bleak picture steps the shabby aristocrat Professor Woland, a specialist in black magic and his unwholesome entourage (including a talking cat). The entourage has to come to set Moscow on its ear with magic, violence and a party of the damned that no bureaucrat could ever hope to censor.

Thru - Apr 2, 2011

Price: $15-$30

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-528-9696

Running Time: 2hrs, 35mins; one intermission

Nearby Restaurants

  The Master and Margarita Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...And although you could make an excellent case that any attempt to dramatize Bulgakov's epic takedown of all things Soviet, bureaucratic and censorial is condemned to a certain kind of doom, you really have to hand it here to director Louis Contey and the cast of 18 actors who shove themselves into this venerable, 70-seat black box and take on one of the most bizarre casts of characters ever penned. There's a talking black cat, a poet, a nasty fanged dude (perhaps one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse), a succubus, an angel of death and more faceless bureaucrats than Cook County."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...this Strawdog Theatre Company production is only fitfully effective. Scenes between the title characters--a Faustian writer and the lover who has a redemptive faith in him--are lyrical and moving. But fantasy doesn't come naturally to director Louis Contey. There's something clumsy and forced about the hallucinatory chaos unleashed by the satanic magician, Professor Woland."
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Zac Thompson

Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"...Edward Kemp's dazzling adaptation manages to rebel against both Earthly tyranny and spiritual guilt at the same time, thanks to the regal justice meted out by its strange devils, and the endless, Christ-like suffering of the artist to lead men out of darkness. And, notwithstanding that final (unexpectedly) transformative little speech by a cowering lunatic (Kyle A. Gibson) at the very end, the Dramatic universe does finally seem to regain its natural shape, one way or another."
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John Olson

Centerstage - Recommended

"...All in all, Master and Margarita was another doozy. It will as soon incite a snort of laughter as a stricken sob. As a nearby audience member exclaimed over intermission, “This is it. This is the real thing.” The Devil may be in Moscow, but Strawdog brings his Moscow to us."

C.S.E. Cooney

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...The play is at its best in its depiction of the struggles that the uncompromising writer the Master (Grimes) faces with Moscow’s arts bureaucracy and, by contrast, in the wicked grandeur of the midnight ball hosted by Woland (Hickey), a mysterious professor with a predilection for purchasing souls. Despite Kemp’s inspired choice to switch the Master’s genre from novels to plays, the scenes from his reimagining of the Crucifixion and the discussions these generate are more of a slog. As the demonic Woland, Hickey has the best part, and he knows it, savoring his seductive power and surprising empathy with a Nicholson-style glee. Not far behind is Anderson Lawfer, in a delicious take on Woland’s sizable cat, Behemoth."
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John Beer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Themes of cowardice, trust, intellectual curiosity, and redemption are vividly depicted with use of allegory and stinging satire. The show is manic, well acted, especially by Dennis Grimes, The Master; Justine C. Turner, Margarita and Tom Hickey as Woland. You’ll be impressed with the theatricality and surprised at the plot twists that cumulatively make for an effective play. The judicious use of metaphor and imagery fuel this artful production. Contey’s production works nicely on all levels. Kudos to Strawdog Theatre Company for attempting and succeeding in mounting an enticing production of The Master and Margarita. See this show to witness one of the best storefront theatre productions this year!"
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Dennis Grimes becomes a life force as he pushes the Master beyond his play and into Bulgakovian metaphysics, while Justine Turner’s ardent Margarita anchors his flights on fantasy in friendship and the flesh. Tom Hickey’s world-weary Professor Woland sometimes fails to rise to the eloquence of his lines but he keeps the character’s mystery strategically intact. Whether playing jealous writers, pompous bureaucrats, sardonic vaudevillians, infamous criminals or ordinary Muscovites, the ensemble soar and sink exactly as needed. Only the work’s own hyperimaginative concoctions threaten near the end to turn it into too much of a muchness. In our regular dreams we wake up much sooner than we do here."

Lawrence Bommer

Reviews You Can Iews - Highly Recommended

"...Oh yes. This is probably one of the smartest plays I've seen in quite a while, and while that can be the kiss of death these days - Larry the Cable Guy DOES have a show on The History Channel, you know - this show really provides the entertainment value. It clips along, and really brings the laughs! And you'll still be thinking about it long after it's over!"
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Eric Roach

Chicago Theater Beat - Recommended

"...The first act is a bubbling manifesto of intriguing confusion. The intermission is a pause from the frenzy to admit uncertainty to the point of the show. At some point in act two, there is an ‘A-ha moment.‘ All the dots connect for art open to interpretation. To sum it up, the cat said it best in one of the final scenes, ‘now, I get this play!’ What the cat said!"

Katy Walsh

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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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