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  Strandline at A Red Orchid Theatre


A Red Orchid Theatre
1531 N. Wells Street Chicago

A richly comic, searing drama by Abbie Spallen, one of Ireland's most exciting playwrights and winner of the Steward Parker Trust Award and the The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. In a small coastal village in Northern Ireland, three local women reluctantly join Mairin, an outsider and an artist, in mourning the death of her husband. Everyone is there for a reason, but each has a bloody good reason not to be there. With mythical echoes, Strandline turns a sharp eye on small-town social and economic realities.

Thru - Dec 7, 2014

Price: $30-$35

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-943-8722

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins

Nearby Restaurants

  Strandline Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The main problem is that director JR Sullivan's heavy-handed production does not punch out Spallen's storytelling. That takes a bit of doing, frankly, in a meandering and overstuffed script that deals with a plethora of fascinating themes — most notably, the complexities of life in a country that, half a generation ago, was riven with open warfare but that now is exploring its own political and economic identity."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Abbie Spallen’s “Strandline,” now receiving its ferociously acted U.S. premiere by A Red Orchid Theatre, is set in a small Irish seacoast town on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, the soda bread-thick accents of its characters aside, you might very well mistake the play for a modern day Greek tragedy."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...And the Irish ache throbs mightily. Strandline never takes off as it should, however. For all that the play trembles with intimations of power, for all its juicy tidbits and willingness to run headlong into dark corners, the one response it provokes more than any other is simple narrative confusion. Too much of the time, I was unsure exactly why matters were falling out as they were. I understood the general progress of events but not their individual triggers. What, for instance, dictated the dynamics of certain aspects of Mairin's interaction with Clodagh? I knew—and I also didn't know, not really, though I bet an audience member at, say, Galway's Druid Theatre would. Spallen's drama is perhaps too colloquial for its own good. Where writers like McPherson and McDonagh are canny enough to leave out the untranslatable details, Spallen leaves them there for foreigners to trip over. It's an Irish thing. We don't understand."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...If this dimension is totally lost on you, you still needn't fear boredom-not when you have Chicago's foremost tough girls, Kirsten Fitzgerald and Dado, swapping repartee with film-noir shrewdness, ably supported by Natalie West as the dithery Eileen, Meg Warner as the angry Triona and young John Francis Babbo holding his own as the forlorn Sweeney, whose dramatic significance becomes apparent only after we have been lulled into dismissing him as little more than narrative decoration. Indeed, while J.R. Sullivan's characteristically light directorial touch may tempt playgoers to settle into comfortable sisterly-solidarity mode, those familiar with the leisurely set-ups of David Mamet will be on the alert for a payoff as chilling as it is inevitable."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Additional allusions to Celtic traditions, the giant tapestry Mairin is weaving on a loom, those code words for the Troubles—one suspects that there must be references that a native audience could read but are lost in translation here. As the insinuations of what Mairin didn't know about her husband turn from suggestions of carousing and affairs into a full-on townwide murder conspiracy, and a suddenly sinister Clodagh orders Sweeney to strip to his underwear while she threatens him with a pair of scissors in that weirdly unearned twist, we lose the thread completely. Intriguing in places but impenetrable on the whole, Strandline leaves us stranded."
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Kris Vire

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...During the all-night drink-infused confessional, we heard secrets and we learn about Sweeney’s family as the rural border town’s inhabitants close ranks in a survival mode. Personal revelations jolt Triona and Sweeney as well as Mairin. As a play, Strandline is a tad tedious and complex yet the humor and the fine performances by the cast, especially young Babbo,make the show worth a look."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...Though messy, sometimes beyond understanding, Spallen’s play provides the opportunity for some excellent female sparring of will and wits, and Red Orchid’s production has a heavyweight champ in Dado. See the play to see these women in action, even if the overall takeaway from the night is murky, the ambitious threadlines lost in the mire of sand and water."

Lauren Sheely

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"... The days of Chicago being controlled by the Irish are long gone, but when it comes to theater, we seem to attract as many writers as they do in Ireland itself! One of my favorite little theater companies, A Red Orchid, a very intimate space located in the heart of “Old Town”, is now presenting the U.S. Premiere of “Strandline” a chilling little tale written by Abbie Spallen and solidly directed by JR Sullivan ( who truly understands the space at Red Orchid and how to use it to its best advantage)."
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Alan Bresloff

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