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  Roe Reviews

Goodman Theatre
Thru - Feb 23, 2020

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Goodman Theatre

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  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
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Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...Middleton is superb - the only limitation to her performance, really, is that her legal partner Linda Coffee (Meg Warner) is much too quippy to be real and Loomer just has not given McCorvey anyone with enough weight to argue against her. The two key characters there are Weddington, of course, and Hall does her considerable best. But the two women are so busy telling us separate narratives that they don't spend enough time talking to each other and Loomer treads lightly when it comes to the living Weddington. And Flip clearly is an extremist, so one dismisses him fast."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Recommended

"...Finding the right case to take to the Supreme Court was, of course, how Jane Roe was born, and Loomer's play focuses on the two women who birthed her. In 1970, Sarah Weddington (Christina Hall) was a recent law school graduate working with a group seeking to challenge Texas' abortion ban. Norma McCorvey (Kate Middleton) was a troubled and penniless 22-year-old, pregnant for the third time, who was referred to Weddington and became Roe, the anonymous plaintiff in Weddington's class-action suit, without ever being present in court."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...Roe is built for entertainment value, not detailed history. It's oddly jokey at times and has a lot of awkward direct address. Still, Hall's Weddington makes legalese ring with passion and clarity. Middleton gives McCorvey a sense of fatalism (she expects very little from her life) that's matched by reckless optimism (she's almost always ready for a party). But most of all, Roe is urgent. That's the most frightening thing of all."
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Catey Sullivan

Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Although Roe has a fundamentally pro-choice framing, and includes a timely reminder that right-wing Christianity is often suffused with homophobia, Loomer makes a cogent case for how the debate as a whole might benefit from greater empathy, humility and grace. She generously looks for good-faith answers wherever she can. But as Roe concludes on a fittingly uncertain note-and with the future of Roe v. Wade itself now very much in doubt-one has to wonder if such faith will be rewarded."
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Alex Huntsberger

Chicago On the Aisle- Somewhat Recommended

"...Political theater comes in all shapes and wrappers, but mostly itís a genre of righteous harangue. Setting aside the not untenable argument that all theater is political, egregiously agenda-driven drama tends to be heavy handed, obvious and dull. The play in immediate view, Lisa Loomerís ďRoe,Ē on the boards at Goodman Theatre, offers the dubious amusement of a cartoon: over-drawn, simplistic and, alas, laughable."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Splash Magazine- Recommended

"...Loomer's play, updated since originally written and since the recent presidential administration, attempts to explicate the characters of the women who originally participated in the lawsuit, by and through the lens of various books actually written by the participants, and also by recreating symbolic scenes that illustrate their lives. Sometimes there is dialogue and action, and sometimes the characters explain themselves directly to the audience; sometimes the stepping-out-of-role interrupts the flow. All of the personalities are exaggerated to emphasize their iconic natures."
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Debra Davy

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...The struggle and conflict of Roe vs. Wade continue even today when one is trying to find the empirical truth about what's inside of a woman and when it is considered a life. Some of the laughter could be a true off to some, but Stalling does a good job mixing it with this serious subject that many still believe a woman's right to choose isn't resolved."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

" is a great deal of talk in today's political world of overturning a monumental court case from 1973. The landmark case is called "Roe v. Wade" which legalized abortion. For many, this powerful case changed their lives. In Lisa Loomer's "ROE" now on the stage of The Goodman Theatre, we learn a great deal about the people who were responsible for this coming to the attention of the people and the "system"."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...The awkward pace does affect some of the performances but overall each actor steps fully into the shoes of their character. Christina Hallís Sarah and Kate Middletonís Norma effectively portray the dichotomy of female experience, with Sarah as a dedicated but privileged lawyer and Norma as working-class woman constantly seeking approval. Supporting the two leading ladies are Flip (Ryan Kitley) and Connie (Stephanie Diaz), who brought a presence of mind and authenticity to an otherwise affected spectacle."
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Hayley Osborn

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...This is the latest production of Lisa Loomer's often comic historical drama, which may hopefully be headed to Broadway. In light of the critical and public approval of Heidi Schreck's "What the Constitution Means to Me," this inspiring new historical play should prove equally as popular. It was one of several plays commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to "shed light on moments of change in American history." Throughout its two acts, the playwright has her pair of primary characters face off throughout the years before, during and after the case of Roe v. Wade, creating a tension equal to that of the actual Supreme Court trial. In the hands of talented director Vanessa Stalling, and enacted by such a magnificent and versatile cast, history comes to life in a drama that presents the argument that a woman certainly has the right to choose what's best for her."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Highly Recommended

"...Loomer deserves much credit for attempting a drama that almost certainly will roil all sides of the abortion question. The storyís outcome, at least to the present day, is well known, so there isnít much suspense. The drama is a crowded mosaic of characters but only a few are well rounded figures, with the narrative largely to the relationship between Helen Weddington and Norma McCorvey. The opening night Goodman audience reacted positively to the case made by the pro choicers, no surprise there. But there were no show-stopping displays of either approval or outrage from the crowd. Viewers seemed content with a well written and well staged show that honorably confronts a subject that only as very brave playwright will explore."
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Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...The entire cast is a marvel. Both Christina Hall as Sarah Weddington and especially Kate Middleton in the pivotal role of Norma McCorvey offer nuanced portraits of two very different human beings with their own agendas who do things for their own particular reasons. Stephanie Diaz as Connie is a quiet and luminous presence despite her rather sudden departure from the scene. With her deadpan delivery, Meg Warner as Linda Coffee is a scene-stealer. After Weddingon and Coffee win Roe v. Wade, the self-deprecating Coffee announces to the audience, "I will leave now because this will be the highlight of my life, according to the Associated Press.""
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June Sawyers

The Hawk Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Outside of this unfulfilled promise, the show has some inspiring moments, and its exploration of these two ostensibly well-known women is certainly worth-seeing. To help audiences better understand what they're fighting for and why it's important, especially in this polarized political climate, is no small feat; the Chicago premiere of Roe gives audiences an opportunity to reflect on our shared history and its future. (Emily Schmidt)"
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Emily Schmidt

Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...Director Vanessa Stalling's innovative staging of "Roe," the story behind the landmark Roe v. Wade case, keeps Goodman Theatre audiences captivated its entire two hours."
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Jodie Jacobs

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Roe is very likely to make you angry, but good theatre is supposed to bring out strong emotions as it holds a mirror up to reality. Itís possible that people on either side of the political divide will see it as partisan, but what Loomer really has done here is to create an inventive, challenging play that forces us to see this landmark decision in new ways. As we move inexorably through an era in which the freedom it defined will likely be destroyed or at least severely limited, itís important for all of us to know what, exactly, the stakes are."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix- Recommended

"...McCorvey's troubled life story could have easily spiraled into a sorrow-filled tale if not in the very capable hands of Stalling, who moves things along briskly, zeroing in on the paradoxical humor and drawing from Middleton a touching and heartfelt performance of a woman walking a fine line between hopeless addict and unwavering optimist. In Weddington, who agrees to litigate the pregnant McCovey's case after a meeting in a pizza parlor, Loomer points to a higher calling to serve all women. Hall's portrayal is thoughtful, decisive and particularly balanced when the Texas and Supreme Court decisions are rendered and did little to improve McCorvey's condition."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...A brilliant cast and poignant production make Roe a deeply impactful piece from start to finish. Especially as we approach the 2020 elections, Lisa Loomer brings to light a detailed history that this writer certainly feels should be remembered."
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Lauren Katz

Rescripted- Somewhat Recommended

"...Of course, the issues of Roe v. Wade still stand in the American landscape, but all I could notice while watching Roe was its lack of coming to terms with exclusive feminism stances. We need to keep asking ourselves as theatre makers: how are the shows we are programming provoking a new conversation? What is our agenda, are we trying to alter history, and who are we really trying to convince?"
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Lonnae Hickman