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  Rutherford and Son at TimeLine Theatre Company

Rutherford and Son

TimeLine Theatre Company
615 W. Wellington Ave Chicago

In the industrial north of England in 1912, the patriarch of the Rutherford family has spent decades building a respected glass works company to pass on to his children, without any say from them. Caught between passion, purpose, and expectation, John, Richard, and Janet struggle to break free from an oppressive and narrow-minded father dead set on writing their stories himself. Less entangled by these family expectations and with ambitions to give her son the life he deserves, John's young wife Mary is determined to upend the cycle, whatever it takes. Playing on the conventions of the period with wit and creative edge, Sowerby challenges audiences, then and now, to question if our "place" in life should be anything but what we ourselves determine it to be.

Thru - Jan 12, 2020

Price: $42-$57

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-281-8463

Running Time: 2hrs

Nearby Restaurants

  Rutherford and Son Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...It's true that Sowerby was forgotten, so much so that she burned many of her own personal papers, assuming no one would be interested. But while the impulse to give this fine play modern exposure is on target, there's also an imperative to let so fine a writer speak in her own voice, especially since she was writing about people she knew with such intimacy."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Mechelle Moe has prioritized speed and technical accuracy of Northern English accents a bit too much over clarity of language and drama. The production feels rushed, and the sense of tension and mood could be enhanced."
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Steven Oxman

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Some redeeming moments come in the second act, when the siblings rebel against Aunt Ann's maxim that "Being happy will make no porridge." The most moving path toward self-determination comes from John's wife, Mary (Rochelle Therrien), who realizes that sometimes the greatest way to effect change is from the inside."
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Marissa Oberlander

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Playgoers anticipating a cheerful Shavian romp will realize their mistake at the first sight of the gloomy Gothic Revival furnishings of the Rutherford mansion and whaleboned gowns worn by its female occupants. Under Timeline director Mechelle Moe, though, the minor-scale tone of this "lost" play never descends into melodramatic parody, but instead turns its very darkness to advantage, forging transcendent moments of defiance pointing the way to hope. The muscular cast displays actorly stamina well meeting the demands of an exposition-heavy play featuring the difficult "Geordie" dialect-the latter courtesy of associate director Eva Brenemen-while Timeline's always astute dramaturgs provide sufficient playbill annotations to acquaint us with a universe ( for those of biographical bent ) replicating that of the author. The Edwardian age wasn't all Downton Abbey and Mary Poppins, you know."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...The fascination of Guinan's Rutherford is his outward appearance as a reasonable fellow always ready to hear the other side of an argument, always open to a justifiable complaint, a better way to go about something. But in fact, this tyrant-in-heart never gives ground on anything, and he operates on a plane well above the inconvenience of moral scruple."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...You can’t keep a good play down. Produced under the pseudonym of K.G. Sowerby, the Edwardian drama Rutherford and Son was a huge hit in 1912 — until the playwright was later revealed as a woman, Githa Sowerby. Perhaps due to male resentment of the play’s depiction of a brutish dad, it disappeared from the boards for 80 years — until inevitably revived in the U.K. It’s reached the U.S. too, its latest return in Chicago. TimeLine Theatre requites Sowerby with Mechelle Moe’s earnest presentation of a play for today written 106 years ago."
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Lawrence Bommer

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...TimeLine has done the theatergoing public a major service by dusting off this century-old play, which has been performed in North America only a handful of times. "Rutherford and Son" deserves to be remembered, as does its pioneering writer. It is the perfect anti-"Downton Abbey," a bracing Edwardian tonic against the temptation to pine for the good old days. The play asks and answers the key question: good for whom?"
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Hugh Iglarsh

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...The strength in Githa Sowberby's rediscovered drama is her ability to have depicted a world on the brink of change. A transition had begun and the world's diversity was snowballing. Women's rights were emerging and their suffrage was about to become law. A man's tyranny and assumed superiority was constantly being challenged and a despotic boss became less able to sacrifice his employees for the company. In Mechelle Moe's intriguing, well-guided production, audiences will discover a little-known play, written at a time when revolution was in the air. It will remind theatergoers of the plays of Chekov, Ibsen and Shaw but, because this play is told from a woman's point of view, chauvinism is conquered and feminism makes a stand."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...There is always something special about watching a resurrected play that turns out to be some kind of masterpiece. The TimeLine has a history of placing such discoveries before its audiences. And seeing Frances Guinan in a new venue is a pleasure and a privilege. We can't get enough of the man on local stages."
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Dan Zeff - Recommended

"...The production and sets are excellent, though this is a wordy play. Director Mechelle Moe has chosen to have the players use the regional north country dialect, which may be precise, but is laid on a little too thick at times, impairing understandability. With all that, it is somewhat recommended, though feminist sympathizers and theatre buffs will want to see what is listed by Royal National Theatre “100 best plays of the century.” Rutherford and Son runs through January 12, 2020 at the TimeLine Theatre in Chicago."
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Bill Esler

Third Coast Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Rutherford and Son, a 1912 play about power and family dynamics in northern England, is distinguished partly because it's written by a female playwright. The production of the Githa Sowerby play by Timeline Theatre portrays an industrial family of the period where only the males are valued. Directed by Mechelle Moe, the feminist play offers insights into a region and an industry (glassmaking) that are probably not familiar to most of us. Unfortunately, despite competent acting and direction, Rutherford and Son is not a compelling theatrical experience."
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Nancy Bishop

The Hawk Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...There’s just nothing, aside from the play’s history, especially laudable. I left longing for someone to write about Sowerby, who loosely based the play around her family’s life, because her fight for autonomy and her own voice in a male-dominated world seems like the true source of potency."
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Emily Schmidt

PicksInSix - Recommended

"...What begins as a conflict between industrial titans to salvage a vestige of their family legacy for economic survival turns sharply into a study of the collapse of family values, the futility of gender and class barriers at the time, and a stark realization that very little could be done to defend the oppressive attitudes toward women at all levels of society except to broker a route for future generations and the hope of change."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...The cast brings some heart to this heartless home, in this writer's view. Michael Holding as John is a fine contrast to Guinan. Rochelle Therrien as his marginalized wife Mary is a determined woman. Christina Gorman as Rutherford's daughter, compelled to remove her father's shoes at age 35, mingles longing and anger. Jeannie Affelder gives an acerbic performance as Rutherford's spinster sister, then pulsates with maternal outrage as the mother of a sacked worker accused of theft. August Forman as Rutherford's other son, a curate, has confidence to match their conviction. Finally, Matt Bowdren plays Rutherford's longtime employee Martin, both trusted and trusting, with great sympathy."
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Susan Lieberman

  Rutherford and Son 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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