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  The Adventures of Augie March Reviews
The Adventures of Augie March
Court Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...It helps that Augie, played by Patrick Mulvey, is, in part, a cipher, a hero who does not so much act as find himself acted upon. Born with no financial or social standing on his own, and with a difficult matriarch (Marilyn Dodds Frank), a loving,"feeble minded" brother (Travis Turner) and a maddeningly practical one (Luigi Sottile) to worry about for his lifetime, Augie needs both faux father figures (John Judd is Bateshaw) and partners in crime (Brittney Love Smith is Dingbat) to fill his days and massage and exploit whatever promise he may possess. All of the actors in this incomplete list are superb; indeed, the performances in the show are of a thrillingly high level, Newell preferring innately theatrical actors, here equally rooted, like the novel they are performing, in the corporal as well as the intellectual."
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Chris Jones



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...Newell's 13 actors (all of whom except Mulvey play multiple roles) negotiate the shifts in vernacular and locale with precision and panache. John Culbert's gloomy black-beamed set and chiaroscuro lighting provide a somber counterpoint to the story's fantastical elements, while Manual Cinema's shadow puppetry enhances them."
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Kerry Reid



Splash Magazine- Highly Recommended

"...Much of the production's success stems from Newell's nuanced direction of an outstanding cast. Patrick Mulvey plays Augie with the mix of curiosity and vulnerability that informs Bellow's character. Augie is an everyman, discovering who he is and figuring out ways to interact with family and acquaintances - an oddball crew portrayed by 11 ensemble members fleshing out multiple roles. Chaon Cross plays not only Augie's fuzzy-thinking, visually impaired mother raising children in poverty without their father, but also, in a Freudian twist, Augie's lover Thea."
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Leanne Star



Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...Although the first act starts slow, the action builds in the second and third act, and though the design set is understated with simple scenery and lighting it works in creative ways, and through the diverse and talented cast which is bare-footed playing a multitude of roles the play is still engaging. Thanks to Manuel Cinema Studios for its impressive puppet designs."
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Rick and Brenda McCain



Around The Town Chicago- Recommended

"...Since all of this is supposed to be Augie’s memories, it’s staged on an industrial looking black stage. The ensemble all wore shades of blue, black and gray, and for some reason, they’re all barefoot. Kudos to all, the acting was superb. Additional ensemble members: Sebastian Arboleda, Kai Ealy, Neil Friedman, Aurora Real de Asua and Stef Tovar."
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Carol Moore



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...Presented in an indulgently long 190 minutes, the production is done almost entirely barefoot with a minimal set by John Culbert that evokes the curved and gridded steel that form the bridges and elevated tracks of our city. Under the direction of Charles Newell, the cast succeeds believably in evoking common folk that scrape and scrap in order to live. In a few moments, they attempt to dance, which is awkward. Most striking is the shadow puppetry (designed by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace and Julia Miller of Manual Cinema) that characterizes Augie's hallucinatory voyage to Mexico to hunt giant iguanas with an eagle named Caligula (of course not his idea but Thea's). Overall, the production misses out on the best part of Bellow's novel, the fearless yawp that elevates these piddling adventures to an epic."
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Irene Hsiao



WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...Labeling a work of art a “masterpiece” is a dangerous business, but on rare occasions there can be no doubt that such a tag is unavoidable. And Court Theatre’s world premiere production of “The Adventures of Augie March” – Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn’s ingenious stage adaptation of Saul Bellow’s nearly 600-page novel, which has been brilliantly directed by Charles Newell, and is being performed by a uniformly virtuosic cast – is an example of just such a case."
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Hedy Weiss



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Recommended

"...This dramatic adaptation makes special demands on the viewer, just like the novel requires a considerable commitment from the reader. Even those who won’t love the Court version will admire it for its first rate acting, and the best scenes in the play can be enjoyed outstanding playlets on their own. Augie March’s yearning for self definition may not be resolved in the adaptation, but they weren’t resolved in the novel. The show works best following Augie’s journey rather than the ambiguous ending. The story starts slowly in the first act, but it puts the audience in the presence of a collection of fascinating characters, and Mulvey’s Augie is absorbing company for three plus hours. This is a brave and mostly successful effort by the Court and all fans of Saul Bellow and serious theater should take note."
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Dan Zeff



Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...If you believe in heaven or hell, then perhaps I can persuade you that Saul Bellow is viewing the current events at Court Theatre with approval. David Auburn’s adaptation of Bellow’s masterpiece, The Adventures of Augie March, is a surprisingly true and fresh retelling of the story of Augie’s life."
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Nancy Bishop



Chicago Theater and Arts- Somewhat Recommended

"...This world premiere production of “The Adventures of Augie March” has a lot of good ideas but for me did not come together as a unified whole with a satisfactory ending that is presented in a fresh way."
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Reno Lovison



Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Though Bellows just lets Augie continue to drift through his life, Auburn’s adaptation—following the character arc he has been working from the start—allows him to grow from his experiences and learn to take control of his decisions, making the ending more satisfying and (yes) theatrical, and bringing real closure to the story. If Bellows’ original is indeed the “Great American Novel,” as Martin Amis called it, does that make Auburn’s adaptation the great American play? I wouldn’t go that far: there are far too many excellent contenders that would make that list first. But there is no doubt that The Adventures of Augie March is a play that will linger with its audience for a long time. It may not be perfect—it does take a while to warm up at the start and it asks a lot of its audience—but is nonetheless a stunning achievement."
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Karen Topham



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...Once the house lights go down, Chicago's immigrant ecosystem of the late 1920s and early 30s springs to life. Playwright David Auburn who adapted Bellow's novel, director Charles Newell and movement specialist Erin Kilmurray convey this coming of age tale with rough and tumble vitality. The visual palette is somber enough but the story teems with a rainbow's range."
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Susan Lieberman