Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended
"...Full of quick scenes in multiple locations, “Dead Pile” often feels more like a prospective screenplay than a full-throated work for the stage. Jeremy (Justin James Farley) gets hired as an undercover investigator charged with documenting, on both tape and camera, the mistreatment of animals. Assigned by his battle-savvy Chicago-based boss (played by Chip Davis) he heads off to the dairy farm where we see him struggle try to hold himself back sufficiently to merely record, as distinct from immediately stop, the bad behavior. He starts deviating even further from his duties when he beds Nance (Allie Long), a farm hand who makes a mere seven bucks an hour. Legal action against her workplace would cost her a needed job."
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Centerstage - Recommended
"...Art that tries to make a meaningful political statement is an inherently tricky proposition. Doing so without telling a good story is propaganda, not art, and a good story needs to explore all its aspects honestly. Fortunately, Laura Jacqmin’s “Dead Pile,” presented by XIII Pocket, gets it right."
Time Out Chicago - Recommended
Dead Pile still seems a draft or two from achieving its potential power. The second act drifts away from an initial suspenseful focus on the investigation, emphasizing too much idle workplace chatter and the implausible relationship between Jeremy and Nance. While Farley gives Jeremy an appropriately cool reserve, other key roles go astray in XIII Pocket’s production: Lutz never finds real menace in the unstable R.J., and Long’s Nance is a Parker Posey–like collection of mannerisms. Still, the play offers plenty of gristly material to chew on."
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Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended
"...XIII Pocket is a group that is near my own world: most of the founders and major players of the group went to my Alma Mater, Roosevelt University (though I only got to work with a few of them). This is my first experience with the group, and I am pleased to see that they bring a lot of good work into the world. Social theatre is difficult to make interesting on a personal level, and it is mostly successful here. I’ll be interested to see in the future what else XIII Pocket has up its sleeve (see what I did there?)."
Chicago Theater Beat - Not Recommended
"...while I applaud Jacqmin for striving to craft a story that refuses to preach to the choir, I fault her for producing an amateur script where the audience is robbed of sympathetic characters and climaxes. Concentrate on writing a good play with a great story, compelling scenes and dynamic characters. Without that as your base, your audience will wonder, "Where’s the beef?""