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  Shining City at The Den Theatre

Shining City

The Den Theatre
1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Chicago

Two Dublin men wrestle the living and the dead in this contemporary ghost story by the incomparable Conor McPherson, author of last season's runaway hit The Seafarer. Ian, an ex-priest turned therapist takes on his first patient, John, a man who claims to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. What follows is a haunting and suspenseful tale of what it means to lose faith - in God, in relationships and in one's self.

Presented by Irish Theatre of Chicago

Thru - Jan 4, 2015



Price: $26-$30

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-878-3727

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins

www.seanachai.org



  Shining City Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...To put all this another way, the stakes don't rise in this production as fully as they should. The world of the show doesn't extend far enough beyond the grave. But that hardly leaves you with nothing: "Shining City" is a formidable character study and, at times here, you feel like you're watching real citizens either hiding or showing the anguish of relationships and loss. This company is known for its acting and no one here disappoints. Nor does "Shining City," a truly masterful script, in these close quarters."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Shining City, for instance, offers interesting echoes of Port Authority (2001) and foretastes of The Night Alive (2013). But as directed here by Jeff Christian, it can't offer much else. Used as transition music, Christian's own neofolk compositions (cowritten with Matt Kahler) stamp out every hint of momentum. His handling of a crucial surprise is oafish. And worse, he wastes the talents of Brad Armacost (the patient) and Coburn Goss (the therapist) on poorly shaped scenes. The only survivors are the two cast members who, appearing in a scene apiece, aren't hobbled by Christian's start/stop approach: Carolyn Kruse, playing the therapist's doormat girlfriend, and Shane Kenyon, gruffly sensational as a man very, very far down on his luck."
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Tony Adler


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The Irish Theatre of Chicago—as the Seanachai company recently re-christened itself—retains its expertise at conveying intimate intelligence without a trace of actorly grandstanding. Brad Armacost, in a monologue that would test the vocal stamina of an actor half his age, draws us into John's futile evasion of the truth behind his wife's walking spirit, while Coburn Goss' ability to listen during his every moment onstage keeps Ian irrevocably immersed in the individual dynamic of each scene. Carolyn Kruse and Shane Kenyon likewise forge complex characters from the briefest of appearances, under Jeff Christian's deft direction. Whatever message you may receive from this play amid December's cheery Christmas clamor, when New Year's Day comes, you'll be grateful for having seen it."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Gapers Block - Recommended

"...Irish Theatre's director Jeff Christian does a credible job directing this script, which is a series of conversations, sometimes quiet, sometimes emotional. Nothing much happens. Everyone is lonely and needy. As the play opens, John comes to Ian for help with the guilt he feels over the death of his wife, Mari, in a taxi accident and her continued haunting presence in his house."
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Nancy Bishop


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...There's plenty of aching, but McPherson's aim goes further than just showing despondency and isolation as parts of the inevitable. For all its bleakness, McPherson and Jeff Christian's production are more concerned with the personal realizations and truths that can only be discovered after everything is lost. That's exemplified in a strong scene between Goss and Shane Kenyon as Laurence, a father who makes an unlikely professional arrangement. That too goes for Carolyn Kruse as Neasa, Ian's estranged wife, with whom it's impossible not to empathize."
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Dan Jakes


Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...For every line Brad Armacost speaks as a grief- and guilt-ridden widower consulting a therapist in Conor McPherson’s “Shining City,” but especially for the prodigious and emotionally wrenching monologue that occupies the center of this 90-minute drama, the production by Irish Theatre of Chicago is greatly to be recommended. For the rest, neither McPherson’s patch-up of a play nor this realization directed by Jeff Christian holds much charm."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...McPherson’s Shining City seems to be most concerned with belief and unbelief. Implicit is Ian’s crisis of faith. More explicitly, there is the question of ghosts, since John claims to be haunted by his deceased wife. Ian tries to avoid affirming that John really saw her ghost, claiming instead that John’s experience was real. He fudges the issue in much the same way that McPherson fudges his message in Shining City. This outing by Irish Theatre of Chicago (formerly Seanachaí Theatre Company) provides no resolution."
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Barnaby Hughes


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Conor McPherson’s Shining City is a subdued, but deeply emotional work that leaves actors with very little besides their story-telling abilities to guide them. Fortunately, it is in good hands with Irish Theatre of Chicago, formerly known as Seanachaí Theatre Company. The four ensemble members take a play that is mostly told through a series of confessional monologues, and make it entrancingly immediate."
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Jacob Davis


Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...In fact, skillful restraint reigns supreme in this production. Director Jeff Christian, presented with a lot of sitting and talking, never forces action or movement where it doesn’t belong. He embraces Shining City’s little fidgets and its stillness together. Ira Amyx and John Peplinski’s design a simple set (couch, desk, bathroom, end table), but they perfectly bottle the atmosphere of a repurposed old building, which supports the characters as they seek to repurpose their lives. Their design also included a really excellent, miniature model Dublin skyline, visible through the office window. Further, a team of musicians and music producers crafted lovely, meditative acoustic tunes to underscore when Ian meditatively rearranges his office. And Julian Pike’s lighting design really shines, primarily through the office’s window: the changing light intimated every kind of mood and season."

Kyle Whalen


NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...But blame here ultimately falls on the head of the director, Jeff Christian. Little has been done to shape the play short of basic blocking and an occasional change in volume or tempo. Christian seems to rely on Armacost’s (albeit considerable) strengths as an actor in order to get the ship home safe. As such, whenever Armacost is offstage, things drift and there are even moments during his scenes with Goss where his hand slips off the helm. An unimaginative sound design by Victoria Delorio that almost entirely consists of scene-change folk music (sung by Christian and Matt Kahler) doesn’t help either. Long pockets of dead-air silence (or indeed, sounds coming in from other spaces at The Den) leave the actors stranded in a vacuum."
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Alex Huntsberger


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...For some audiences this play may be frustrating for its lack of action. Not much seems to happen and Conor McPherson offers no resolution for what has transpired. But trust in the moment. It’s the quiet, psychological horror permeating everyone’s life that’s recognizable that frightens us. It grabs the playgoer and never releases him until well after the houselights are restored. Indeed, with its natural pacing, its realistic dialogue, its familiar, everyday characters and its subtle surprises, this is a production that will continue to haunt audiences long after the final curtain."
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Colin Douglas


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