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  The Heavens Are Hung In Black Reviews
The Heavens Are Hung In Black
The Heavens Are Hung In Black

The Heavens Are Hung In Black
Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit
Thru - Oct 21, 2017

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Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...Still's play, like its protagonist, is prone to wandering off on side stories and observations. Some of the meditative interludes feel forced in order to give metaphoric heft to what's already obvious to us. Yet thanks in large part to Lawrence Grimm's incandescent turn as Lincoln, as well as fine supporting performances, director Louis Contey's staging for Shattered Globe Theatre gives the story heart and fire."
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Kerry Reid



Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...As imagined by James Still, whose fascinating fantasia, "The Heavens are Hung in Black," is now receiving an enthralling Shattered Globe Theatre production, Lincoln, a great fan of Shakespeare, also was thinking about "Hamlet" as he agonized over whether or not to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. And like the Prince of Denmark, he was not only riddled with doubt, but was musing on that classic conundrum: "To be, or not to be?""
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Hedy Weiss



Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...Playwright James Still packs all this and too much more into his metaphor-heavy, pedantic script without doing any of it justice. Certain matters--like Lincoln's tendency to pardon military offenses--get repeated over and over again to no particular end, while others--like his discussions of emancipation--are continually cut short. If not for Lawrence Grimm's engaging, even playful Lincoln (and especially his powerful rendition of a speech from Shakespeare's Henry V), Still's pageant would have no center of gravity at all."
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Tony Adler



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Still's portrayal of his environment adopts a panoramic view, replete with battlefield witness accounts by Walt Whitman, campground letter and ballads, urbane Oval-Office badinage and nostalgic recollections of peaceful domesticity. Elevating this Shattered Globe production far above the sprawl of pageantry, however, are the nuanced performances of a company displaying some of the best ensemble work seen this year."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...Chicago’s young theater season has raised the curtain on a genuine sleeper: a gem of a play, James Still’s “The Heavens Are Hung in Black,” produced by a little company, Shattered Globe Theatre, on a tiny stage at Theatre Wit. At the center of a splendid ensemble effort is Lawrence Grimm’s exquisite and wholly credible portrayal of Abraham Lincoln."
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Lawrence B. Johnson



Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

"...Right now—bar none—the most stirring chronicle on a Chicago stage is Shattered Globe Theatre’s enthralling 155-minute The Heavens Are Hung in Black at Theater Wit. Whether history as drama or drama as history, this two-act offering from Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still distills 1862—a pivotal year in the Civil War and the storied career of the 16th President—into a powerful mix of memory, dream revelations, seminal quotes, and fascinating meetings of minds and hearts."
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Lawrence Bommer



NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Most interesting, however, is the exploration of Darren Jones' roles: Dred Scott, Uncle Tom and others. His final role as the Twenty-first Century Man might seem message-laden at first but nevertheless presents a telling portrait of our country then and now. Having the same man play a fictional Uncle Tom in Lincoln's dream and a man in a modern suit who appears upon Lincoln penning the emancipation, rightfully points out that the battle Lincoln launched is being fought to this very day."
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Danielle Levsky



Third Coast Review- Recommended

"...Playwright Still, an artistic affiliate at American Blues Theater, was commissioned to write this work to open Washington's renovated Ford's Theater in 2009, Lincoln's birth bicentennial. Still has the why do you "say what you're against, but not what you're for" question covered. And he's most successful with his meta-theatrical references, like Edwin Booth's (also Bender) theater company's interstitial rehearsal of Shakespeare's Henry V, followed by Lincoln echoing those footsteps by walking amongst his own soldiers."
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Karin McKie



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...This more honest Abe drawn by Still’s script is made so accessible by Grimm’s performance and Contey’s direction. Grimm gives us a vulnerable Lincoln. Whether it’s Grimm as lonely Lincoln trying to graze his wife’s hand, or taking on the look of an addict as he tackles a pile of correspondence seeking Presidential pardons, or breaking his good nature to berate Stanton to allow him some humanity, or unleashing his homesickness to an old friend from Springfield, and more telling moments—Grimm gives us a Lincoln cut down to human size."
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Amy Munice