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  Smokefall at Goodman Theatre


Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

Exactly one year after its world premiere in the Owen Theatre, Noah Haidle’s Smokefall, directed by Anne Kauffman, makes its Albert Theatre debut. Change is in the air as Violet prepares to bring twin sons into the world. Inside her womb the boys contemplate their future, while her outer world is in transformation: her husband is secretly planning to leave her; her father is slipping into senility; and her daughter has taken a vow of silence. Smokefall follows the lives of this family in an expansive poetic treatise on the fragility of life and the power of love.

Thru - Oct 26, 2014

Price: $25-$81

Stage: AlbertTheatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 15mins; one intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  Smokefall Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...In this case, the Goodman saw what it had, watched what this very fine new American play was doing for its audiences and expanded its reach without overdoing the spectacle and trampling on the fragility of the play. The aim, clearly, was partly to showcase "Smokefall" for other regional houses and commercial producers; it most certainly merits a future. No wonder the entire original cast, including the truly remarkable 90-year-old star, Mike Nussbaum, stayed with the show; plays like this are rare and precious to an actor."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Noah Haidle's play, "Smokefall," took my breath away when I saw it for the first time last October at the Goodman Theatre. And I confess, when it was announced that the Goodman would be remounting it this fall - and moving it to its larger stage - I was wary. I wanted to hold on to all my indelible initial impressions, and past experience has taught me that "remounts" can be a very dicey business."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Blessed with the same cast, director, and designers, the remounting is, if anything, even better than the original, some of its problems having been addressed and new elements added. Smokefall's affinities with Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth made it look like a classic from the start; with this new production, it's clear that looks weren't deceiving. In conception and execution this is a masterwork."
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Tony Adler

Gapers Block - Recommended

"...Smokefall is a beautifully written and masterfully directed play. Under Kaufmann's direction, every performance is sharp and meaningful. The scenes between Violet and her father are particularly warm and a model of how one can live with an aging parent who sometimes forgets your name. Best line reading of the night is Nussbaum's: "Bed, Bath and ... Beyond?""
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Nancy Bishop

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Noah Haidle's sharp, sweet fable about the family ties that bind, and sometimes choke, was one of 2013's most unexpected delights in its premiere last fall in the Goodman's smaller Owen Theatre. When the Goodman announced its next season, Smokefall became one of the most unexpected delights of 2014, with Robert Falls's shrewd, applause-worthy move to bring back the entire impeccable team-Haidle, director Anne Kauffman, her designers and cast-for a remount as the mainstage opener. On second viewing, Smokefall is even more beguiling than before."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...The beautiful, chimerical “Smokefall’ from Noah Haidle take it’s time revealing three generations of a ‘normal’ Midwestern family. “Smokefall” examines the experiences of never-ending loss and the love that continues in spite of it. The underlying theme of aging and the realization that life can change at a moment’s notice gives Haidle’s entrancing drama the grace, humility, and truth it needs to come full circle."
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Stacey Crawley

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Mike Nussbaum, irrepressible at age 90, is like great Bordeaux wine. Need I amplify that? Chicago’s prince of perdurable actors is the single best reason – among many good ones – to catch Goodman Theatre’s almost-instant revival of “Smokefall,” Noah Haidle’s fine-stitched play about family, its profound fractures and its potential for healing."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Whatever the random harvest, no doubt Kauffman and her cast serve a supple, slick script very well. They manage to find the charm in contradictions, the rewards in arbitrary plot twist, and the toughness in love. For many theatergoers and the majority of critics, that’s payoff enough. Others are finicky and ornery enough to want originality."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...This play actually has a lot of humor, though it was clearly more to the taste of other people in the audience than mine. A lot of people who are probably parents laughed at a scene in which Massey and Slater play fetuses. I found it grotesque. I also wished Act I had more going on than a narrator telling us about the characters we spend forty minutes watching, or fetuses discussing Christian metaphysics and the brilliance of their own play. But this build-up does pay off in Act II, when Haidle finally gets to his point about love being a labor with subtle rewards, and director Anne Kauffman found the right level of introspection and compassion to sell it. Costume designer Ana Kuzmanic has the difficult job of attiring characters in each act who are separated from each other by about eighty years, but whose exact time is left undefined. The set, being the Colonel’s house, is hard to put a date on. He apparently hasn’t renovated since the sixties. A cataclysm right before intermission finally makes full use of the space, and David Weiner and Lindsay Jones’s lighting and sound designs."
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Jacob Davis

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...You will find much to discuss in this work that follows three generations of a family that are reared in the same house. Violet (Katherine Keberlein) is pregnant with twins, an event her husband Daniel (Eric Slater) views with trepidation. Her widowed father (Mike Nussbaum) wanders emotionally across his many decades, and her daughter Beauty (Catherine Combs) no longer speaks, and eats dirt, paint, and twigs. There is a wry narrator (Guy Massey) who provides comments along the way."

David Zak

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The title of Noah Haidle's play "Smokefall" is taken from "Burnt Norton," the first poem in T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, and like Eliot's most obscure work, it has footnotes, but don't panic: they are in English, spoken by a narrator (Guy Massey), and relate directly to the dramatic narrative of the play. Like Eliot's poem, the themes here are large and abstract: Time-Past, Time-Present, Time-Future, Original Sin, and whether Time is redeemable. Unlike in Eliot's poem, these themes are explored through a defined, if surreal, narrative and the arguments of the play are clearly articulated. In this story, it will ultimately be up to the characters,' and not God or at least not God alone-although we are assured by the Colonel that He does exist, to redeem Time."
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Lawrence Riordan

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...As the Goodman Theatre, one of Chicago’s beacons of theatrical excellence, shines toward a century of professional, entertaining and enlightening productions, this production will be remembered as one of the hallmarks of its excellence. Anne Kauffman’s superb, thoughtful direction of Noah Haidle’s captivating and heartbreaking examination of love and family will no doubt find itself on yet another end-of-the-year listing of the Best Theatre in Chicago. It should not be missed."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...For all of the play's dramaturgical flourishes, "Smokefall" is really an entertaining play about a failed marriage and its toll on wife and children and grandchildren. If Haidle has philosophical points to make, they didn't come through to me. But his personal way with the play's structure and his sense of humor and feeling for his characters are impressive, certainly more impressive, for me, than they were last year."

Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...SMOKEFALL is a unique theatrical experience. Haidle's story is a total original. It's part sitcom, part drama, part fable and all memorable. The sublime cast become Haidle's cast of characters. And Kauffman navigates their inventive lives in dark comedy perfection."
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Katy Walsh

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   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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