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The Hard Problem
The Hard Problem

The Hard Problem
Court Theatre
Thru - Apr 9, 2017

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Court Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...There are several very compelling performances including from Hooper, shrewdly cast against type, as Spike; Fry, who offers some caustic comic relief; and Hosner, who avoids most of the traps posited by your typical billionaire. But the moving Cross is Newell's muse here, as she was in his radical 2013 take on David Auburn's "Proof," and the director places even more at the center of the work than the script demands. These transitions and forays into Hilary's internal psyche mostly work (the revealing landscape of the mind is designed by John Culbert and lit without escape by Keith Parham), and they help center a play that is very much an exploration of whether such a center exists."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...As anyone who has experienced the plays of Tom Stoppard will tell you, they very quickly ignite the synapses in your brain and force that mass of gray matter to operate in near manic overdrive. The work is challenging, but it also is great fun. And invariably you leave the theater asking countless questions while still trying to come to grips with the scores of ideas Stoppard has flung into the air with such virtuosic dexterity."
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Hedy Weiss

Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...Newell's staging, suitably set in John Culbert's sterile waiting room, is a smooth operation, a thinking machine in its own right that's greater than the sum of its performers. Cross's Hilary is a spunky and driven dreamer, her energy more eloquent than the fulminating dialogue. As always with Stoppard, the human touch gets us through his heavy haul-barely. If The Hard Problem succeeds, it's as a theatrical demonstration of mind over matter."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic- Somewhat Recommended

"...This fast-paced 100 minutes sure has some interesting characters deftly played by k\Kate Fry, Emjoy Gavino, Nathan Hosner and Brian McCaskill. The dialogue has wit and intellectual depth and once the entire cast slows down a tad and the leads project stronger The Hard Problem has a chance to be stage worthy. Unfortunately, at the opening performance, The Hard Problem was too hard to hear and understand. That got me frustrated. One can hope that those vocal problems will be corrected and the play will have a fine run."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...What is consciousness? What is thought? What is it that defines us and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom? This is the question that Tom Stoppard confronts in his play “The Hard Problem” presented by the Court Theatre and like so many of his fine works this one gives the audience lots of debate, entertaining moments, and much to contemplate."
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Michael Horn

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...What’s remarkable about “The Hard Problem” is how Stoppard and director Charles Newell manage to balance the play’s narrative, which is detailed and fluid, with its philosophical musings, which are unabashedly deep and even uncompromising in their detail. Theater is at its best when we see real people on the stage, when the aims of the playwright and director blend seamlessly with the flesh-and-blood humans interacting with one another. It’s a damn tricky thing to pull off, but the team Court has assembled pull it off with aplomb, and they are aided by the theater’s always exceptional production staff, namely Keith Parham’s virtuosic lighting and John Culbert’s astonishing scenic design."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Somewhat Recommended

"...Some viewers may revel in the uniquely Stoppard-ish complexities of "The Hard Problem." My problems were two fold. First, the characters have little flesh and blood appeal, serving as sounding boards for various approaches to difficult topics not easily explained to a lay audience. Second, Hilary notwithstanding. the subject matter didn't particularly interest me. Doubtless there will be many viewers who will be absorbed by the play's probing into the intricacies of human consciousness and the workings of the mind and brain and collateral issues. I am not one of them. The playwright took on these demanding topics in "Arcadia" and the result was one of the classic theatrical and dramatic experiences of the modern theater. "The Hard Problem" alas does not approach that indelible work."

Dan Zeff Recommended

"...If Stoppard's goal was to show how the debate over the hard problem spills out of sealed realms such as universities and think tanks to strike at peoples' deepest vulnerabilities, the flatness of the other characters prevents him from quite getting there. However, he does a good enough job of illustrating his point for us to understand it. A great many people love Stoppard and Court Theatre simply for having these conversations, with no expectation the problem will be resolved. Pointing out how divorced from real life rationalism and rationalizations are is enough to make a fruitful evening, and getting to experience it being put so eloquently by fine actors is a bonus."
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Jacob Davis

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...Just as we get snapshots of the theories at play in The Hard Problem, we also get snapshots of these character's lives. Hilary struggles with a decision she made when she was much younger, jockeys for a position at a prestigious brain science institute, and publishes a controversial paper suggesting the plausibility of God's role in consciousness. And while there are also traces of romance and sexual tension across the play's hour and forty minutes, none of these conflicts fully crystallizes in the play's slightly episodic nature. As the lights fade, we are left with plenty to think about, but a bit less to feel. The Hard Problem features robust and detailed performances from a talented team of artists, vying more for audiences' brains than their hearts."
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Brent Ervin-Eickhoff