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  The Hairy Ape at Oracle Theatre

The Hairy Ape

Oracle Theatre
1802 W. Berenice Chicago

Director Monty Cole makes his Chicago debut with THE HAIRY APE, directing an ensemble of six African-American men in the portrayal of the many characters in O'Neill's harrowing, expressionistic critique of class stratification. Yank is the master of his world, shoveling coal on an ocean liner. But when a wealthy woman descends to see life on the lower decks, their encounter propels Yank from the close confines of the engine room and onto the streets of New York City, where he seeks validation, belonging and revenge. Cole's charged staging will capture the caged mind of a young, black man yearning to belong.

Thru - Mar 12, 2016

Mondays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 8:00pm
Sundays: 7:00pm

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 252-220-0269

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  The Hairy Ape Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Cole's decision to use an ensemble of six black men for all the roles in O'Neill's Expressionist one-act play doubtless made those parallels easier for me to see. Cole also interpolates a few subtle call-outs to contemporary racial justice issues. At one point, as Yank is hauled off by the cops, a bystander cries "He can't breathe" - a reference to the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of police. For the most part, Cole's production works so well because it walks a smart balancing line between the O'Neill original and his own original vision."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...The enterprise is helped considerably by a gripping performance from Julian Parker, whose Yank is equal parts pathos, youthful exuberance, and feverish rage. The only trouble is Cole's intrusive production design, which is so loaded with atmospheric effects (echoing voices, clanking pipes, eerie lighting) that it's easy to miss the text."
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Zac Thompson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Another incendiary offering from Oracle Productions, Monty Cole's bold take on Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape is pugilistic and powerful. In his athletic tour-de-force, a vibrant sextet stomp, leap, clamber, dangle, and swing like the title from stage-wide scaffolding. For all its force and fury, this latest Ape never forfeits its total take on O'Neill's protest play from 1922. Ever new, this brutal expressionistic drama incarnates America's persecuted poor, specifically the modern worker as a freak whose wretched worth is to build our cities for unfair pay, then disappear. Here it's performed-if that's not too weak a word-on Eleanor Kahn's daunting set, a combination of gymnastic apparatus, jungle gym, and scenic outlook."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The use of an all-black male cast both emphasizes the O’Neill’s critique of class by pointing out its performative nature, while acknowledging that gender, color, and class prejudice are all interwoven. Tickets for Oracle’s The Hairy Ape are hard to come by for a reason; the show brings out the best of a master American playwright for today’s Chicago. But members of Oracle’s sponsor group are guaranteed seats, and this show provides more incentive for theatre fans to join."
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Jacob Davis

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite levying criticisms at both sides of the capitalist/socialist divide, Eugene O’Neill’s 1922 play “The Hairy Ape” teems with Marxist zeal. One wonders what O’Neill’s anti-hero Yank would think of a presidential election cycle where a self-declared democratic socialist is challenging the advancing plutocratic influence in America. Oracle Theatre’s new interpretation folds in race with O’Neill’s classist concerns. In doing so, the production shines a spotlight on glaring fissures in the landscape of equality while inadvertently illuminating some gaps in its own beliefs."
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Kevin Greene

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...THE HAIRY APE is a powerhouse adaptation. Cole dusts off O’Neill’s play and gives it a contemporary spin. The thought-provoking results are relevant to today. Black lives matter! Whether it’s the Irish in the past, African Americans in the present or a new group of immigrants in the future, economic inequality needs to be addressed. By understanding the plight and pride of the poor, we can work toward resolution."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...Oracle Productions' new play, The Hairy Ape, was one of Eugene O'Neill's early works, written in 1922. It's written in an expressionistic-rather than linear-style, which makes it suitable for director Monty Cole's powerfully dark and physical production."
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Nancy Bishop

  The Hairy Ape 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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