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  The Night Alive at Steppenwolf Theatre

The Night Alive

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

The kindness of strangers comes with complications. Tommy is getting by-kind of: he is crashing in his uncle's ramshackle house in Dublin, dodging his estranged family, and plotting a parade of get-rich-quick scenes with his buddy Doc. Then one day he defends a destitute woman against a violent attack, and a fragile glimmer of hope appears as Tommy tends to her in his run-down room. From the author of The Weir, Shining City and The Seafarer comes this compelling new drama-by turns funny and frightening, but always deeply human.

Thru - Nov 16, 2014

Price: $20-$82

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 1hr, 35mins; no intermission

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  The Night Alive Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Henry Wishcamper's production plays out on a beautiful setting by Todd Rosenthal, an expansive design blending nature and the unnatural, heaven and hell and carefully capturing one crucial theme of the play: that, as the book of John observes, "in my father's house are many mansions." All are inhabited by the imperfect, as the record shows and McPherson understands better than any other working playwright of whom I can think. The question that comes up most frequently at this stage in McPherson's fantastic writing career is what the imperfect deserve."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Wishcamper, who arrived at the Goodman Theatre as resident artistic associate in 2012, has since helmed a series of exceptional productions at theaters throughout the city (including “The Dance of Death” and “Port Authority” at Writers Theatre and “Other Desert Cities” at the Goodman, where he will stage “The Little Foxes” this spring). He is a master of clarity and focus, and, like McPherson, he has a pitch-perfect ear for orchestrating black comedy so that it always draws you back to the pain that is its source — to the “black hole” of existence, the ever-present shadow of mortality and the indeterminate nature of a higher power."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Masterful too are the members of the cast under Henry Wishcamper's direction. Just the sight of the great character actor M. Emmet Walsh (whom you should make it your business to see in his recent movie Calvary) would be resonant enough without the querulous dignity he imparts to Uncle Maurice. The combination of the two is wonderful. Tim Hopper is frank about Doc's mental deficiencies, and amusing about them as well, never allowing them to devolve into caricature. He's at his most compelling when Doc responds to Kenneth's aggressions with a physical language of fear and placation. Helen Sadler plays Aimee appropriately close to the vest, evoking a distrust based on plenty of solid experience."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Under Henry Wishcamper's intuitive direction, Francis Guinan, Steppenwolf's go-to representative of sensitive masculinity, and Tim Hopper, in an amazing departure from his Russian Transport slimeball, swap repartee with tag-team precision as codependent chums Tommy and Doc, while veteran heavy M. Emmet Walsh is a formidable stage presence as the blustering Maurice. Helen Sadler hints at the strategic guidance lying beneath Aimee's passive veneer, as Dan Waller conveys menace as a sadistic bully who ultimately gets what he deserves. It makes no difference that we've met these characters in other McPherson plays ( notably, The Seafarer ). Whether Dublin's scruffy fates move in mysterious ways or with Dickensian resolve, salvation is always welcome-whenever or however it arrives."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Aimee remains ill-defined and unknowable, rendering her little more than an object to spur Tommy back to life. (Though Guinan is terrific as usual, the pronounced age difference between him and Sadler makes the pairing feel more father-daughter than romantic, up until the point where Aimee gives Tommy a hand job in exchange for cash. Then it just feels gross.) Aimee's sadistic boyfriend (Dan Waller), who shows up to terrorize poor Doc for some reason, is equally opaque. All told, The Night Alive is among McPherson's least vibrant works."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Director Henry Wishcamper's guiding hand hovers palpably over split-second interaction that produces both riotous comedy and credible tension. Both of those elements also seem to spring naturally from the wreck of an apartment created by set designer Todd Rosenthal, with major contributions in Rachel Anne Healy's costumes and Keith Parham's lighting. It's a smart package that makes "The Night Alive" a vivid treat."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Everything works (except Walsh's curious lack of an Irish accent). What gleams, as it did in Shining City, The Weir, The Seafarer, or Dublin's Carol, is McPherson's depiction of a kind of dynamic decency. This stranger's kindness all but stalks the play. And it's no passive benevolence but the kind of kneejerk goodness that makes Tommy a troubled treasure who you believe from start to end. But, wow!, how McPherson tests his unwitting saints! Happily, no evil deed goes unpunished either."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"..."... part of the beauty of this magnificent play is the sheer vision and scope of it all. It is both mind-blowingly large and intricately small at the same time. An intellectual play for sure but, unlike many American plays that are intellectual, this one is actually entertaining. The Night Alive offers a penetrating introspection into our own souls, as well as an engrossing, and surprisingly funny night of theatre.”"
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Justin LeClaire

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The Night Alive is a brilliantly constructed drama that unfolds as finely directed and beautifully acted work that leaves audiences moved and satisfied that their lives and their aspirations are in a better place than Tommy, Doc and Aimee. We are glad we shared their experiences of these very human souls as only a master playwright can present them. The Night Alive is one of the finest players seen on a Chicago stage this year! Don’t miss it."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Conor McPherson’s plays, which often have the power to take everyday experiences and fill them with subtle poignancy and unexpected humor, are masterclasses in storytelling. This play is no exception. A prolific playwright and screenwriter, the Irish-born Mr. McPherson is the author of such theatrical successes as “The Weir,” “The Seafarer,” “Shining City” and “Port Authority” and is an expert at making the familiar seem remarkable. Steppenwolf’s stunning production, which opens their 2014-15 season is, in director Henry Wishcamper’s hands, a masterpiece that should be on every theatergoer’s list of must-see productions this Fall."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"..."The Night Alive" may not satisfy viewers who like to see plays with all its t's crossed and i's dotted. There are gaps and improbabilities that some attendees may find bothersome, but only after the play is over. During its 100 continuous minutes, the show is a nonstop grabber, even when McPherson injects speeches too eloquent to come from his lower class characters. It requires a masterful production to bring out all the light and shadow in McPherson's deceptively simple story, and that's where the Guinan-led Steppenwolf presentation comes up very big."

Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...THE NIGHT ALIVE charms showing the best and worst parts of both good and bad people. It illustrates how a kind act can have a life altering impact. And through Hopper’s dream explanation, it tells us exactly what heaven is like. THE NIGHT ALIVE has darkness with the promise of light at daybreak."
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Katy Walsh

  The Night Alive 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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