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  The Jungle at Oracle Theatre

The Jungle

Oracle Theatre
1802 W. Berenice Chicago

Originally published in 1906, Upton Sinclair's novel tells the story of immigrants trying to find their way to the American Dream in the Chicago stockyards at the turn of the 20th century. Sinclair tried to expose the economic disparity and corruption of the time, but audiences fixated on the horrid conditions in which food journeyed to their tables, leaving Sinclair to lament that he, "aimed at the public's heart and by accident hit its stomach." Foss's world premiere adaptation confronts the squalid working conditions by focusing on the story of a small immigrant family from Lithuania, navigating what seems to be a rigged game. As they fight for the American Dream, the family will engage modern audiences in conflicts of immigration, class struggle, and the equal chance to fulfill their destinies.

Thru - Apr 25, 2015

Price: Free

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 252-220-0269

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins

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  The Jungle Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Remarkably, Matt Foss' potent new adaptation of “The Jungle” — which you currently can see for free at the 50-seat Oracle Productions, an unusual theater company that raises money to proudly present what it calls “public access theater” — does indeed find such a metaphor. Instead of cows, you get great long spools of paper, upon which images of cattle are sprayed, evoking the branding of the animals themselves. That might read as strange, but it's highly effective in the theater, especially in the famous “Jungle” sequence wherein the line goes haywire and live, panicked cows are set loose among the workers. Here, that is one eye-popping scene, replete with all the symbolic horror it demands."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...While "The Jungle" is generally seen as a muckraking novel (and it certainly did expose the horrors of the meatpacking industry), Foss focuses on Sinclair's sense of the destruction of the immigrants' bodies and souls, and the pernicious divide between rich and poor. The fine ensemble also features Kate Staiger, Rick Foresee, Grayson Heyl and Dylan Stuckey. Nicholas Tonozzi's thrilling music (which ranges from industrial percussion to church hymns), has been sored by Sam Allyn, who plays it along with Colin Morgan and Stuckey. Joan Pritchard's costumes are as distressed as the characters. The lighting by AntiShadows, LLC, is haunting. This is a real thunderclap of a production."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...In director Matt Foss's somber, ardent, schematic adaptation for Oracle Theatre, by contrast, Jurgis's prototypical nemeses (the factory boss, the landlady, the real estate swindler) are transparently malevolent, making Lewis's compellingly monstrous world border on melodrama. And the production's unflinching gloom makes it clear Jurgis is doomed from the start; while the show is full of visual, theatrical and musical ingenuity, it belabors the obvious for 100 minutes. As Jurgis, Travis Delgado wears an almost permanent mask of anguished nobility."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...But pack it in he does, and audiences will be surprised and impressed at the very clever means used to suggest the work, sweat, stench and steam of the slaughterhouses. The production is enlarged by costume designer Joan Pritchard's effective mix of long skirts, babushkas, cloth caps, vests and somber colors to suggest working class garb, and also by Nicholas Tonozzi's incidental music, played and sung live, suggesting everything from church hymns to labor anthems to harsh industrial noise ( yet never too loud for the tiny space, hooray! )."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Gapers Block - Highly Recommended

"...The cast is strong, with a sweetly moving performance from Polt and a feisty one from Grace. Kate Staiger plays the widow who owns the boardinghouse where they live. Her animated chicken puppet was designed by Jesse Mooney-Bullock, who also created the cattle design that's repeatedly stamped on paper rolls. Thomas Wynne does a malicious turn as Connor, the corrupt boss of the stockyards. And Colin Morgan is someone you can hate as a sleazy real estate agent and a crooked bartender."
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Nancy Bishop

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...In this era that we live in I cannot reason better way to hold the mirror up to the face of our nation, And ask the question were you're grand parents any different. When the, Poles, Russians, Irish and Italians fled their homes dreaming of the new world. A world that welcomed them only to beat them to death. Yet they fight, they work, they earned their freedom, this town is theirs now. The won in the end, history and the Chicago, flag tell the tale. Every now and then we need to hold up that mirror, and that is what a true artist does. The folks at the Oracle are holding the mirror, do you dare look do you dare see. I think you can, I think you should, other wise you might miss a master piece of high art."
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Dave McGuire

Theatre By Numbers - Recommended

"...Despite its weaknesses, inconsistencies, and deviations from the source material, I found myself entertained. I expect that I was one of the few in the audience who has read the book, so it may not matter that much of the important content that led to the overhauling of how labor and food were regulated in this country was left out. The play is worth seeing, even if it seems a bit heavy-handed in its message. That, at least, remains true to the spirit of Sinclair’s work."
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Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...With the cast surging around a small storefront stage packed with viewers on rows and benches, it makes for a claustrophobic, blood-spattered evening with less than ideal sightlines. But that’s exactly the imploding world that Jurgis and his clan endured. A more complete picture and indictment of civic corruption can’t be imagined this side of The Front Page—and this one won’t laugh our troubles away. The groans are on us and our 1 %. Your ballpark franks come with a human price as much as an animal one."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Even in Sinclair's novel, Jurgis finally finds help and employment with a socialist organization. There is no hint of hope in this downer drama. Therefore, I wonder who the audience is for such a depressing play? I guess the deft staging and the dedicated players may be the only saving grace here? Oracle Theatre is an amazing troupe who do imaginative and artistic works but their production of The Jungle is a tad too depressing and devoid of any hope of salvation to be credible."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...This production is most impressive. The first ten minutes are unlike anything you are likely to see as they set the stage for a well-oiled machine of raw theatre. It is important to recognize the entire ensemble as it works together so beautifully. Travis Delgado is effective in his portrayal of the immovable Jurgis, a man who naively believes that if he just works harder, just a few hours longer, he will achieve all his dreams. Stephanie Polt plays his devoted wife Ona. She does well to portray a woman who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her family, no matter the cost. We truly feel for her. Havalah Grace plays the cousin- Marija, who is proud of her knowledge of English and her newfound freedom. Havalah portrays Marija with a deep maturity, perhaps signaling to us that she, amongst the family, knows their eventual fate."

Drew Wancket

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Foss’ fine adaptation, though, would go nowhere without such an outstanding cast and crew, and “The Jungle” sustains Oracle’s high standards. I’m always impressed by how Oracle does so much with so little, and with “The Jungle,” stage manager Amy Hopkins and lighting designer Jason Fassl craft world that is as savage as it is cruelly beautiful, a neo-noir nightmare with mood to spare. As he did with “The Mother” (Oracle’s Jeff-winning production from last year), Nicholas Tonozzi crafts original songs that perfectly reinforce and further develop the play’s themes. And Foss coaxes terrific performances from his cast, with Dylan Stuckey and Colin Morgan bringing considerable aplomb to their multiple roles and Travis Delgado, the show’s lead and a newcomer to Chicago theater, deftly balancing fury, weariness, and humanity to a very affecting degree."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...Having seen the Jeff Award-winning THE MOTHER, I couldn't help but make comparisons. Russia vs USA. Both are about the working class strife. The similarities are globally apparent. The differences are more subtle. There is definitely more industrial-strength pageantry in this American based conflict. Yet, the sentimental investment is not as substantial as inTHE MOTHER. Still, I recommend THE JUNGLE as truly a one of a kind experience."
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Katy Walsh

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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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