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  Ah, Wilderness at Athenaeum Theatre

Ah, Wilderness

Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Chicago

The O'Neill season continues with his only lighthearted and comic play, Ah Wilderness!. Set in New England in the days of America's innocence, this affectionate comedy presents a young man's coming of age story during a summer in which he experiments with poetry, politics, wicked women and alcohol and succumbs to his first romantic crush. Ensemble member and Goodman Theatre Associate Producer Steve Scott directs.

Thru - Sep 2, 2012

Price: $18-$28

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-935-6875

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  Ah, Wilderness Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...It's a performance that brings to mind, weirdly enough, the '80s TV series"Family Ties,"a show that was filled with plenty of ancillary characters, none of whom were half as interesting or charismatic as the son, played byMichael J. Fox. You watched that show for Fox and Fox only — and suffice it to say, Weisman is pulling full-on Fox duty here. He's doing one heck of a job of it, too, and in the funniest sight gag of the night, he returns home from his drunken escapade, casually striding in and glancing silently as his aghast family looks on. It's a simple idea on the page, but one that generates a huge laugh thanks to Hagan's blocking and Weisman's deadpan commitment."
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Nina Metz

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Set in a bustling and prosperous Connecticut household on the Fourth of July, 1906, its story is the essence of middle-class normalcy and “solid values” — an old-fashioned coming-of-age comedy that is beguiling in its mix of the tart and sweet, and very much a precursor of a show like Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound.” And consider this: Aside from one more-or-less functioning alcoholic character here (a journalist), there is none of the usual madness, incest, adultery, drug addiction or heavy duty delirium tremens you ordinarily expect from O’Neill."
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Hedy Weiss

Daily Herald - Recommended

"...Director/set designer Kevin Hagan keeps sentiment in check in his nicely paced, comfortably nostalgic production. Its greatest strength rests with the sincerity of his agreeable cast, led by Alex Weisman, a terrific young actor who earned a Joseph Jefferson Award in 2009 when he was a Northwestern University undergraduate. Weisman — whose credits include TimeLine, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman and Lookingglass theaters — may yet be an up-and-comer. but I don’t suspect he’ll wear that label much longer."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Both roles are perfectly cast in Kevin Hagan's production for Eclipse Theatre: Rebecca Prescott and Alex Weisman find great subtlety and depth in seemingly stereotypical characters. Trouble is, the show subsides into inert nostalgia whenever Prescott and Weisman aren't the center of attention—which is roughly half the time."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Director Kevin Hagan and company have captured the spirit and attitude of the play with unfussy honesty and heartfelt playing, suitably aided by period-perfect design elements. Hagan's sepia-toned set design is inspired by old-fashioned wing-and-drop scenery, with some references to the actual O'Neill home in New London. Rachel Lambert's period-accurate clothing is attractive without being formal and has an air of summer about it. It's an eye-pleasing show altogether (Mike Winkelman, lighting design). The 13-person cast is a rock-solid ensemble right down to the cameo roles, but first among equals are Brian Parry's pitch-perfect portrayal of Nat Miller—Robert Young, eat your heart out—and trimmed-down Alex Weisman's Richard, whose innocence always remains obvious despite his brash tongue, and Cheri Chenoweth's Essie Miller deliciously alternating between Mother Hen and tack-sharp comedy."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"... This show is a true ensemble delight with a breezy pace and a warmth that exudes truth. It is a theatrical treat to go back to that nostalgic time when goodness and total honesty rules. We enjoy our two hours with the Miller’s as we admire the depth of Eugene O’ Neill’s talents. Who thought he could write such a funny and warm comedy?. He must have been sober in 1933 when he penned Ah, Wilderness! in only a month. the Eclipse Theatre production is a family friendly show filled with heart and humor. See it and discover why Eugene O “Neill is the greatest American playwright of the 20th Century."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Despite the sentiment that’s always near the surface, there’s seldom a false note in this open-hearted and utterly uncondescending revival. It achieves authenticity itself with Kevin Scott as the family drunk whom everyone “enables” (his caught-in-the-crossfire look is priceless). Most poignantly, Rebecca Prescott as his too-tested lady love delivers an encyclopedia in quiet desperation. In a cunning comic turn, Margaret Grace bubbles over as a tart-tongued floozie who gives Richard a swell lesson in why Muriel is a much better deal. Their very unromantic tryst, a once-painful incident now softened by memory, is a vaudeville gem worthy of the Orpheum circuit."

Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...There is a lot to love about this production but the most obvious is Alex Weisman (Richard). A hilarious Weisman plays lovesick and boozy with perfect comedic timing. Whether he’s sweet-talking his girl, his hooker or his ma, Weisman endears with his amusing antics and his heartfelt words. Weisman has a sophisticated vulnerability that is just... ah, sweet! The ending satisfies with a tenderness that made me misty. Ah, O’Neill, you big old softie!"
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... This is not one of my favorite O’Neill plays, but Eclipse, as always, takes it to a new level in story telling, as well as bringing all the comic elements out. To make a production as solid as this, it takes many people off the stage as well as those on the stage; Rachell Lambert’s costumes are just the right period, Heather Timmerman’s props are ideal, Mike Winkleman’s lighting and Ian Stuges Milliken’s sound, perfect. The orchestration of the set changes a shandled by the stage manager, Sara Carranza, keeps the flow in action, so whoever decided how to do it, Bravo!"
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Alan Bresloff

   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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