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  Solstice at A Red Orchid Theatre


A Red Orchid Theatre
1531 N. Wells Street Chicago

In a war-torn world, in an unnamed city divided by a river-and religion, politics, and money- a devout candlemaker, his sick wife, and their son struggle to survive. When they learn of a plan for their side of the river to be mined for minerals, and, worse, that their son has taken drastic action against their oppressors, their lives dramatically change. Zinnie Harris' otherworldly play explores terrorism and a family attempting to keep a hold of their faith and each other in a world torn apart by violence and inequality-a world we often fear ours becoming.

Thru - Feb 23, 2014

Price: $15-$30

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-943-8722

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  Solstice Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Karen Kessler's production, which features a compact but fascinating set from Joey Wade, contains some decent performances - especially from Kirsten Fitzgerald and Larry Grimm who, unlike some of the younger cast members, keep excess in check. But it feels as if it exacerbates some of the problems of the script, rather than working as a necessary counterbalance. There is a twangy, wild-kids-on-the-loose score and a lot of actors doing a lot of shaking, and so on and so forth. Sarah Price, who plays Sita, one of the young people in this hellish place, is a promising young actress, but she meanders around the stage here, wandering into so many obscure corners of the room that you find yourself wishing she would just find a place to go and stay there. That's an issue with the whole show, really. It is hard to discern the narrative thrust, or heck, the whole point of the thing, in the face of such a lack of specificity and purpose."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Karen Kessler (who years ago staged Sarah Kane's "Blasted" at A Red Orchid, the work of another British "end of the road" dramatist) deftly juggles the play's tension and mystery, extreme cruelty and pathos. The environmental set co-designed by Joey Wade and Aaron O'Neill captures a sense of ruin and decay. And Brando Triantafillou's original music and sound design enhance the sense that we are all headed to hell, whether it's a place of fire or ice."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...ike Caryl Churchill's Far Away, Solstice is set in a dystopian landscape and charts the way war distorts any sense of normality and inspires internalized violence and brutality, often in the name of religion. But Harris's work lacks the surprise or concision of Churchill's: Harris's world is too close to Northern Ireland or the Middle East to feel wholly allegorical—and yet Solstice is also too vague to pass as realism. While there is some masterful acting to watch here (Kirsten Fitzgerald and newcomer Danny Luwe), some casting choices don’t work."
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Suzanne Scanlon

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...The unsuspected star of this production, however, is Danny Luwe as Sita's brother Jean. Though early in the going, Jean is little more than a tag-along with a more aggressive and feared friend (Kevin Matthew Reyes), in the end Luwe twice ratchets up the tension in scenes of unforgettable terror and, to the young actor's great credit, poignancy."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Solstice is no detailed docudrama, its toxic territory neatly circumscribed in 110 minutes: Much in Harris' mysterious depiction of a cumulative downfall is cryptic and open-ended, more suggested than shown. But that very vagueness makes this damaged family's very specific struggle to stay decent, whether by relying on religion or a more obvious form of escape, strangely moving. Kessler's casting is almost pathologically precise (minus the British accents). Her eight players act and react as kinetically as the disturbing developments deserve."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Solstice is one of those theatrical gems that needs a strong cast and a director with a focused vision (like Karen Kessler has here). It is a moving cautionary tale of what happens when violence and inequality separate folks from the same culture . It demonstrates how terrorist are made when intolerance invades a culture."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...there is much to recommend about "Solstice." It's narrative is well-paced; it's acting is sensitive; and best of all, there is Red Orchid's set, which was co-designed by Joey Wade and Aaron O'Neill, is superlative; indeed, I'm consistently amazed at how well Red Orchid re-creates its tiny performing space with each of its shows. From "In a Garden," to "Simpatico," to "Trevor," and now "Solstice," you'd never think you were looking at the same space."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Somewhat Recommended

"...In the end, I didn’t get it. There is certainly a meaningful play to be written that explores the eruptions of violence in the modern world, with reprisal following reprisal, egged on by greedy fascist governments and the breakdown of the family and social institutions, but Zinnie Harris hasn’t written that play. I can understand why A Red Orchid selected the piece. The show has lots of eye and ear catching acting opportunities and gives the illusion that it is dealing with important themes. But in its present form “Solstice” just doesn’t work."

Dan Zeff

  Solstice 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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