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  Roan @ The Gates Reviews
Roan @ The Gates
Roan @ The Gates

Roan @ The Gates
American Blues Theater at Stage 773
Thru - Feb 29, 2020

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Show Information

American Blues Theater at Stage 773

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...Barrie and Bracey, though, both are excellent actors and they throw their considerable talents into this show, creating a rich inner life for characters trying to reconcile their mutual love with their individualized moral determination to do the right political thing. When "Roan @ the Gates" gets away from Snowden and into this territory, when both of its characters are face to face and these performers allowed to unlock their feelings, this short theatrical experience is at its richest."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...This American Blues Theater production thrives in that hopelessly messy space between public and private responsibility, and should be seen by anyone who's ever been trapped there, as we all have."
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Max Mallet

Windy City Times- Recommended

"...A dialogue orchestrated for only two speaking characters on a stage picture composed of a bedroom and living room—albeit located in different hemispheres—could easily be reduced to a pair of talking heads referencing names and places recalled dimly ( if at all ), were it not for the immutable connection forged by Brenda Barrie and Jasmine Bracey during every second of the lovers' struggle for a solution to the adversity rendered by scientific advances. Escalating the tension are the technical artists who conjure a labyrinth of unseen spycraft, even to the pre-curtain exhortation to turn off our phones. ("I will know [if you don't]" warns a voice concealed behind a wall.)"
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Mary Shen Barnidge

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Also commendable is director Lexi Saunders’ deft use of technology. In the beginning, Nat and Roan are able to debate one another face to face. Toward the end, however, they have to do so via an encrypted messenger, their voices nothing more than robotic utterances drifting from one continent to the other. It is as if the two characters are being reduced in real time to just another set of data points. It is these flourishes, along with the truly memorable performances by Barrie and Bracey, that elevate this production from political thriller to something more relatable."
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Noel Schecter

Chicago Theatre Review- Somewhat Recommended

"...The two Equity actresses are excellent. As Roan, Brenda Barrie, who was so terrific in House Theatre’s tense drama, “United Flight 232,” is again, masterful. Jasmine Bracey, who’s been enjoyed in many productions at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare and the Goodman, is strong and filled with emotion as Nat. Two other Artistic Affiliates of American Blues Theater, James Joseph and Dana Black, provide the voiceover work. Lexi Saunders has directed this play, given it as much of her artistry as possible. But the problem is that Christina Telesca Gorman’s play has a great, contemporary Edward Snowden premise, but it just doesn’t go anywhere. All the audience is left with an examination of how a loving relationship can be destroyed by large government forces beyond our individual understanding."
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Colin Douglas

Chicago On Stage- Somewhat Recommended

"...American Blues Theatre's design team for this show is as solid as the actors. Sarah E. Ross has designed a nice compact set that integrates some of Jared Gooding's inventive lighting, and scene changes and time passing are marked by Lily Walls' varying costumes and Eric Backus's original music. In all, I don't think there is a whole lot more that Saunders and her team could have done to make Roan look and feel any stronger, and there is nothing at all that Barrie and Bracey could do to make their performances better. This one comes down to the script, which is great conceptually but fizzles out. Even the aspects added for tension-the fact that these are lesbians and one of them is Black-amount to next to nothing: just a brief mention of the Russian reaction to these things and then nothing. It's like Gorman had a wonderful idea but couldn't quite figure out what to do with it once she had it going. In that way, perhaps, she is like her main character: trapped in a cage of her own creation."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"...Over the next six weeks, the situation escalates when Roan is detained in Russia-stranded, isolated and alone. Sensitive information has been disclosed that sparks an international media event and compels Nat to seek out Roan at all costs using all means that are available to her, including the FBI. As the story begins to unfold, communication between the two women becomes increasingly difficult. What is said next-and how-is at the heart of the Gorman's intriguing love story about choices and trust that raise vitally important questions about the future of the information age in which we live."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...If you are looking for escapism entertainment, perhaps ROAN @ THE GATE may not be for you. The production strikes this reviewer as very timely, as the United States grapples with its own socio-political nightmares. If subjects of realism, inclusivity, and urgency are of interest to you, catch American Blues Theater's latest production while you can."
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Margaret Smith