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  Roast Reviews

The Comrades at The Greenhouse Theater Center
Thru - Aug 18, 2019

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The Comrades at The Greenhouse Theater Center

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...At the concept level, there are some legitimate laughs in Wood's one-act, like a performer unironically plugging his podcast in front of his friend's casket, and a mortician—having only met the roastee as a corpse—resorting to insulting material inspired solely by his body on a slab. But much of what does work here is steamrolled by magnified performances that iron out any interesting wrinkles of subtlety the premise would seem to call for."
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Dan Jakes

Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...Simultaneously raucous and tragic, “Roast” is “a painter’s palette of emotions.” Brought to the stage by The Comrades, the resident company at the Greenhouse Theater Center, it is a dark comedy about a young comedian named Sam Warner who takes his own life and does not want a traditional funeral or memorial service. Instead, his last wishes are for his fellow comics to pay tribute to his relatively short time on earth by roasting him. By telling jokes and funny anecdotes about his life, there would be no need to cry, no need to be sad; for it is so much better to laugh!"
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Julia W. Rath

NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Derek Bertelsen keeps the jokes and anecdotes moving, but the show’s staggered structure, where stand-up routines alternate with flashbacks to the roast’s warm-up, is problematic. It’s a format that could work on TV, but onstage, the many pauses, as the cast furls and unfurls Sydney Achler’s clever folding set, become tedious and impede the flow. The cast members are engaged and energetic, showing traces of vulnerability under the verbal aggression that is stand-up. However, in a play that’s neither really playful nor serious, the acting tends toward the inflated and histrionic. This is especially true of Jones’ Alyssa, whose accusatory rage at her and Sam’s admittedly neglectful father takes on a deadening stridency."
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Hugh Iglarsh

The Fourth Walsh- Somewhat Recommended

"...Although the ensemble does a fine job in character portrayals, THE ROAST script doesn’t have the meat to sustain the sizzle."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review- Somewhat Recommended

"...Roast is a world premiere and a credible first play by Northwestern alum Harry Wood, produced by the Comrades. It's often funny and occasionally poignant, even though the structure of the play is a little jumpy and erratic. Roast actually is a roast, in the form of a funeral service, for a comedian who committed suicide. That's the not-funny part. (The theater company provides info and a link to a suicide prevention hotline on a welcome card in their program.)"
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Nancy Bishop

Chicago On Stage- Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Derek Bertelson does what he can to keep the play moving forward, but he is hampered both by a script that insists on jumping back and forth in time and location and by scenic designer Sydney Achler’s solution to this complexity. Wood’s structure is episodic, and he alternates between each character’s moment at the mic and the room in which they all gathered before the roast. To effect these changes, the cast has to move six folding chairs, unfold a wall, move the podium and mic, close the curtains in front of the coffin, and move a table. It’s time-consuming and awkward, and a less cumbersome set that combined the two locations instead of keeping them separate might have made it easier. One nice touch, though: a running clock on the wall of the ready room that shows how much time remains before the event is to begin. And the nook with the coffin does look nice."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...This is a play for those who hunger for an unflinching meditation on the many forms that selfishness can take and the fragility of the human mind with a side of comedy. Audiences looking for a jaunty, light hearted romp may wish to look elsewhere."
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Spence Warren