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  Wasteland at TimeLine Theatre Company


TimeLine Theatre Company
615 W. Wellington Ave Chicago

TimeLine's latest world premiere follows extraordinary successes with new works like My Kind of Town, To Master the Art and Hannah and Martin. An American soldier, captured by the enemy in Vietnam and isolated in an underground cell, hears a voice from the other side of his prison wall. Thrust into each other's lives, the two men are separated by solid ground, divergent backgrounds and opposite worldviews. But over time, they are drawn together as they battle dire conditions, loss of faith, and each other. This emotionally stirring new play affirms the extraordinary power of human connection to forge hope in even the darkest hours.

Thru - Dec 30, 2012

Price: $32-$42

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-281-8463

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins; no intermission

Nearby Restaurants

  Wasteland Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...with some cutting, adding and (most crucially) intensifying, "Wasteland" could be a very powerful and timely play. You already believe this involving and strikingly emotional show throughout. Kevin Depinet's set, a great mountain of earth that acts as a kind of K2 in reverse, is a formidable piece of design in service of a Vietnam drama that turns out to be very much about the American present."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Felder's scenario here is not entirely new — similar notions have been dealt with by the Irish playwright Frank McGuinness in "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me," and in the work of Jean Genet. But the play is true and finely observed. And with just one actor seen throughout, and the other only a voice, "Wasteland," directed by William Brown, becomes an intriguing exercise for both the performers and audience. Burger's work is fully believable and compelling, with beautiful small moments of truth (like his simple but passionate embrace of a rock in his cell) completely heartbreaking. Haggard has a very different job, but it is every bit as difficult and tricky; he must listen to and imagine everything in order to be as convincing as he is. We must feel both men in this space."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Susan Felder's first play should be a riveting, high-stakes affair—especially given the strong performances and menacing design of William Brown's world-premiere production. But the POWs are contrived foils—a gay, agnostic Yankee and a homophobic, evangelical southerner—and their predicament unfolds with little sense of surprise, progress, or psychological profundity. Felder's ninth-inning attempt to turn their ordeal into an existential crisis rings particularly false."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...This world premiere also is elevated by an excellent production that benefits from caring and lucid direction by William Brown, a superbly realistic and gritty scenic design complete with rain by Kevin Depinet (lighting by Jesse Klug) and—above all—an honest and remarkable performance by Burger, who is totally immersed in his wet and filthy environment and completely committed to Joe's reality. Haggard's voice-only support is varied, effective and absolutely vital, but Burger is the one whose award-worthy work carries Wasteland."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Centerstage - Recommended

"... Susan Felder’s world premiere doesn’t break new ground by depicting the horrors of wartime prisoners; other plays have done that. But what Felder’s drama does so well is to personalize the terror, helplessness and claustrophobia of internment. She does this so cleverly by introducing another, unseen prisoner behind the wall. Unseen yes, but a real presence. Riley (his surname) is Joe’s polar opposite in almost every way. Riley’s from Texas while Joe’s a Yankee. Riley’s conservative, religious, enlisted in a military he staunchly supports, is straight and believes in President Nixon’s integrity; Joe is a liberal who’s lost his faith, was drafted, is gay and cynical that the government cares about POWs like himself. The two men try to bolster each other’s spirits through heated debates, trivia games and singing together through the wall. But, as the years drag by, rations become scarcer, monsoons flood their underground cells and their captors randomly fire at them, the men’s differences disappear. They understand they need each other to survive, and William Brown’s sensitive, well-paced production drives this home."

Colin Douglas

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Nearly 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, there are still more than 1,600 Americans listed by the U.S. government as missing in action in Southeast Asia. About half of them were killed in action, but their bodies were never recovered. It's haunting to imagine what became of the others. Susan Felder offers up a devastating possibility in this new two-character play, brought vividly to life by director William Brown."
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Zac Thompson

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"... Wasteland is masterfully directed by William Brown, who allows his actors to dictate the pacing of the play, which undoubtedly changes each evening. Mr. Burger and Mr. Haggard are no less than sensational, both conveying such truth in each of their characters. The other stars of the production are the design team where Kevin Depinet’s set allows Mr. Burger’s character to unravel, along with Jessie Klug’s realistic lighting and Andrew Hansen’s haunting, echoing sound design."
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Michael Roberts

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...There is a rising in one's pain quotient over the course of Nate Burger's tormented, soul-baring performance as a bereft prisoner of war in Susan Felder's new play "Wasteland," now in its world premiere at TimeLine Theatre. What begins as empathy evolves through understanding to a conclusion in absolute heartbreak."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"... Wasteland necessarily skims over some externals. We never see how the prisoners get their food, or how Joe keeps his barren cell free of human waste. He doesn’t shave and his hair doesn’t grow. His jailers never appear, and are only briefly heard in off-stage chatter. So even though a year and a half pass, time seems to stand still, as it does for the prisoners who battle tedium and discomfort and depression in the days without end that face them."
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Dan Zeff

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...You'll be on the edge of your seat throughout this most rivetingly powerful drama. It reaffirms our basic belief in the power of the human spirit. We see how human connection propels hope even in the darkest hours. You'll be moved and shaken by this ode to humanity; you'll be stirred to your core,and you'll be uplifted by this work. Wasteland is a gem."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...Not your usual TimeLine Theatre Company offering, this intense two-character, one-act world premiere by Susan Felder doesn't sprawl to tell its story. It's a very small part standing for a very big whole. "Wasteland" coils in concentration as it depicts, perhaps more successfully than it should, the boredom and desperation of two Vietnam-era P.O.W.s as they waste away in an underground cave in 1972 somewhere near the border between Vietnam and Cambodia."

Lawrence Boomer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...The creative team (Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet, Lighting Designer Jesse Klug, Sound Designer Andrew Hansen) worked overtime to simulate an underground prison. Hanging from the ceiling is a big ole dirt hole with branches and earth spiraling to the floor. Light, rain, and food come through the unseen top. On the stage, the floor is an uneven rock terrain. Jungle noises spook the days and nights. Being trapped underground in a foreign country during a war has to be the worst kind of torture imaginable. WASTELAND gives us a sensory explosive experience. We see it. We hear it. We start to feel it! I got uncomfortable toward the end. I'm not sure if it was the overwhelming suffering or that it's a smidge too long. I just know I was ready to get the hell out of Vietnam!"
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Katy Walsh

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... When it comes to new works, Timeline Theatre Company, somehow finds some of the grittiest of stories to bring on their stage. Their current production, another World Premiere,”Wasteland” written by Susan Felder is another in a long list of memorable moments in live theater. Don’t let the title confuse you. This is not a play about television, but rather a play about survival and the power of human connection. This is a stirring 90 minutes ( no intermission) about two men, prisoners of war in Viet Nam, both isolated in underground cave-like cells ( a superb set by Kevin Depinet), who are being held as prisoners. They have never met, but when Joe ( a marvelous character played deftly by Nate Burger) discovers the “other voice” after 6 months of hearing nothing on the other side of “his wall”, the communication begins. While we never see Riley (Steve Haggard) these two men who are total opposites begin to form a sort of bond. They begin to open up about their lives and their hopes and dreams, and yet, both are fearful that they will never see the light of day again."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...‘Wasteland' is definitely a production not to be missed, and the skillful way TimeLine has handled this world premiere will ensure future productions of the script. When the lights came up at the end of the show, my first thought was "this is why I do theatre.""
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Cat Wilson

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...director William Brown weaves a taut, intense and compelling drama with his two person cast, creating a world that's as unforgettable as it is inescapable."

Catey Sullivan

  Wasteland Photo Gallery

   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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