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  Suddenly Last Summer at Raven Theatre

Suddenly Last Summer

Raven Theatre
6157 N. Clark St Chicago

Wealthy New Orleans socialite widow Violet Venable is trying to silence her niece Catherine, who, as the only witness to the murder of Violet's son Sebastian, has been giving a horrifying description of the circumstances under which he was killed. Unwilling to accept either that account or other assertions about her son's life, Mrs. Venable pursues extraordinary measures to keep Catherine quiet.

Thru - Jun 17, 2018

Price: $15-$43

Stage: East Stage

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-338-2177

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  Suddenly Last Summer Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Unfolding in a voracious garden where a tangled jungle of plants compete for sunlight to survive, Tennessee Williams’ drama is laden with a sense of claustrophobia and life-and-death struggle. The choking humidity in this twisted Eden is palpable."
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Catey Sullivan

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Running now at Raven Theatre in a flawed production directed by Jason Gerace, Tennessee Williams's 1958 one-act is less a play than a lurid bit of storytelling set in an elaborate frame. The subject of the story, Sebastian Venable, is dead but far from forgotten. His mother, Violet, positively-not to say creepily-reveres him."
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Tony Adler

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...Gerace's directorial take on the play is resonant of normative Midwesternism. The actors speak with a certain generic Southern quality. But I did not sense the broad pace, the reflective space, that's essential to conveying Williams' fine-tuned conversation whether the play is "A Streetcar Named Desire" or "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" or "Suddenly, Last Summer.""
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Hypocrisy, greed, sexual repression, a secret journal, and carnivorous love — it’s all packed into this potboiler (and exploded in the 1959 film version with Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Montgomery Clift as a visible Sebastian). Suddenly Last Summer doesn’t require or reward too much critical scrutiny: It exists for its final, terrible truth injection, a revelation so awful it’s the proverbial act that can’t be followed."
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Lawrence Bommer

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...It is not often that a theater company takes on a theatrical “challenge” in producing a seldom seen play , authored by one of the greatest playwrights in history. Hats off to The Raven Theatre and its Artistic Director, Cody Estle, for bringing us their version of “Suddenly Last Summer” by Tennessee Williams. This is, as I said, a rare vision. It opened on Broadway in 1958 during Williams’ “heyday”. A year later, as a film, starring Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, it became a monster hit and I truly think that this film knocked the stage production out of the box."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...I had so many mixed reactions to this play. There are some fine performances, and the play itself has the potential to address real social issues: the history of silencing and dismissing women as “insane” is long, pervasive and still occurring today; the casting in this production opens the door for some interesting reflections on racial dynamics. Yet it lacked the cohesion it needed to make any kind of real point."
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Emma Couling

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This is perhaps Williams' most poetic play. He incorporates many symbolic details, from the Venable's Southern Gothic mansion, to Sebastian's jungle-like garden, with its Venus flytrap and other tropical plants. The playwright even foreshadows Catherine's scandalous story by having Mrs. Venable give her own account to the doctor about a trip to the Galapagos Islands. There she accompanied Sebastian to the beach to witness the hatching of thousands of defenseless sea turtles, who were immediately devoured by a massive flock of black birds."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...Williams’s sizzling writing demands a perfect pitch performance by the actress playing Catherine. The performer must sustain an arc of emotional tension from her first appearance to the stunning final moments. The Raven has found its Catherine in Grayson Heyl, who manages to remain in a constantly emotional fraught state without turning the character into a shrill hysteric. Did Catherine really see what she tells us she saw or is her story the grotesque hallucination of a broken mind? In any case, we are treated to a tremendously resourceful performance of an enormously challenging role."
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Dan Zeff

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...Gerace’s direction draws out excellent performances from Nogohosian as the aging Mrs. Venable, who ends each day with a frozen daiquiri at exactly 5pm, and Heyl as Catherine, nervous, distracted, but firmly in control when she finally gets to tell her story. Clark is a capable and ever-solicitous doctor. Rathgeber as Catherine’s younger brother isn’t the right age to portray a first-year college student. And Sebastian? The most important character in the story never appears."
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Nancy Bishop

Chicago Theater and Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Skillfully written by Tennessee Williams and directed by , the 90 minute production moves along swiftly in the capable hands of this Raven Theatre ensemble."
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Reno Lovison

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...What is truth? That seems to be a question that has increasing relevance in an era in which we cannot believe what our media or our government tells us, and it is a question at the core of Tennessee Williams’ one-act play Suddenly Last Summer, now playing at the Raven Theatre. Though the play may show a bit of wear around the edges and is certainly far less than politically correct, Raven’s production is compelling and thoughtful and features two standout performances that make it well worth seeing."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Raven Theatre’s production of Suddenly Last Summer is fiercely entertaining. The cast delivers a raw story about the savage and dark corners of Darwinian tendencies. You can’t help but enjoy the viscous family matriarch, Violet Venable (played hilariously by Mary K. Nigohosian). Violet had an alarmingly close relationship with her now deceased son, Sebastian, and her delusional dysfunction is just as interesting as her appetite for destruction."
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Marla Seidell

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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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