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  The Recommendation at Windy City Playhouse

The Recommendation

Windy City Playhouse
3014 W. Irving Park Road Chicago

Fresh off successful productions at The Old Globe (in San Diego) and the Flea Theater in New York, the psychological thriller follows two friends through the trials and tribulations of life and tests just how far they will go to get what they want.

Thru - Oct 20, 2019

Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 4:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm & 6:00pm

Price: $80-$100

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-891-8985

Running Time: 2hrs, 25mins; one intermission

  The Recommendation Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The problem, actually, is a very simple one: the production lacks two crucial things, stakes and pace. Granted, the whole idea inevitably adds time, but attention needs to be paid not just to what goes on in each environment but to how we all travel from one place to another. On Sunday afternoon, at least, the energy of the show dissipated between every scene. Pogue, whose character serves as narrator, could do to help with the urgency issue. But it's mostly about seeing the audience as fellow travelers on a narrative journey, not just as a group to be herded to to the next environment."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...The extended reshufflings unfortunately allow you plenty of time to ponder the narrative contrivances that a more efficient staging might have glossed over as the playwright hurtles the boys from freshman year to their early 30s. Along the way, a good word from Feldman's dad helps get Izzy into UCLA law school, while Feldman charms his own way into the movie business."
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Kris Vire

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Windy City Playhouse's immersive ambulatory production of Jonathan Caren's The Recommendation, conceptualized by Amy Rubenstein and directed by Jonathan Wilson, balances on the razor's edge of hilarious excess and wrenching realism, guiding the audience from college dorm to sushi bar to jail cell (replete with beverages for most occasions) as the story twists and twists again. Carrying the suspense are stellar performances by Hester, Pogue, and Brian Keys (as convict Dwight Barnes), who reveal their characters with sympathy and complexity. This is a penetrating experience not to be missed."
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Irene Hsiao

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The challenge to actors operating within this environment is greater than simply making eye contact ( or not ) with audience members seated inches away on a spartan dormitory cot. Previous experiments in "immersive" technique have centered on comedies, but if Caren's reliance on dramatic suspense arising from subjective perception is to escape reduction to mere stunt-show gimmickry, its personae must retain the ambiguity inherent therein."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended

"...This is more than a cautionary tale about the effects of unfair advantage upon mores and personal morals; it is also a demonstration of the effects of parenting upon the inner life of progeny. Iskinder's moral development was in place long before he met Aaron, who- like many another offspring of the self-made, fails to individuate or to find success. The plot is convoluted, yet the demands made upon the audience to move about as part of the scenery actually add to its plausibility. Finally, the questions raised for all of us by the current college admissions bribery scandal make the issues raised here very timely indeed."
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Debra Davy

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...With powerful performances by Michael Aaron Pogue as the irresolute Iskinder, Julian Hester as the overprivileged Aaron, and Brian Keyes as Dwight Barnes, whose only blessing is that he knows where he stands, in an explosive and immersive staging by Jonathan Wilson, The Recommendation offers plenty to discuss. Despite plot contrivances that threaten to swamp the characters, the actors manage to generate empathy and interest, and the dialogue propels the audience into worlds that may or may not evoke a twinge of recognition. Windy City Playhouse once again manages to create an experience that places the audience behind the fourth wall, which proves a powerful vantage point for Caren's flawed but thought-provoking play."

Kerstin Broockmann

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...With astonishingly wonderful actors, brilliant direction by Jonathan Wilson, and a superior script by Jonathan Caren, "The Recommendation" is a dense, finely-crafted production that details the culture clashes among three men who come from different walks of life and who try to achieve some measure of success in contemporary American society."
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Julia W. Rath

WTTW - Highly Recommended

"...The three actors are uniformly sensational, with the impeccably controlled Pogue, the high octane Hester and the fabulously charismatic Keys creating the ideal chemistry. In fact, there are moments when you fear for their lives, and wonder how they will survive the next two months of the run. The uncredited fight director has gone full force, but that is the perfect metaphor for a play in which no one is morally pure, and notions of privilege, ambition, self-destruction, manipulation, broken promises, innate character, testosterone and survival are all in play in what is, on every count, a fully immersive piece of theater."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Windy City Playhouse’s riveting production of Jonathan Caren’s explosive drama is an absolute must-see. It’s about who you know and how that certain person with connections can be of use to you. The play’s totally immersive, bringing every theatergoer into the story. No one simply sits back at a safe distance and observes. Director Jonathan Wilson has maintained the drama’s realism by keeping his actors honest, involved and on top of every possible situation that might occur. Sometimes theatergoers are asked to stand; but more often than not, plenty of seating is provided within each of the many locales. Refreshments are occasionally offered, to further enhance the theatrical experience, which include jello shots, coffee, soft drinks, saki and cucumber-infused water. If you attend no other play this summer, make sure you see “The Recommendation.” It’s one theatrical experience you’ll never forget."
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Colin Douglas - Highly Recommended

"...The Recommendation as presented at Windy City Playhouse also makes a compelling case for experiential theatre. The format eschews the traditional actors-on a stage performance. Instead the audience walks through a series of sets. In The Recommendation, we began with a scene in the lobby, from which a double door opens onto the dorm room of Aaron."
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Bill Eslser

The Hawk Chicago - Recommended

"...As their third immersive production following the explosive (and much deserved) success of their hit Southern Gothic, The Recommendation can be added to the list of technical triumphs at Windy City. The play’s reimagining by Director Jonathan Wilson (and Artistic Director Amy Rubenstein) and the incredible scenic design by Lauren Nigri take Caren’s text to a new level, one well worth experiencing."
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Emily Schmidt

Chicago Theater and Arts - Highly Recommended

"...Directed with amazing skill and tempo by Jonathan Wilson, the production take place in different locales. The various settings are the handiwork of talented scenic designer Lauren Nigri and the result is simply extraordinary."
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Jodie Jacobs

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...But I’d argue that Windy City Playhouse (along with Caren and Wilson of course) has reconstructed the play in a truly innovative way that puts us up close and personal with its characters and events, thus enhancing the experience for everyone. The Recommendation is another brilliant piece of immersive theatre presented by a company that really knows what it is doing. I highly…um…recommend it."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...From an Ivy League College dorm room, to poolside in a Hollywood producer’s mansion, to jail, to sushi bar, to prison, to an athletic club’s sauna we then follow the Windy City Playhouse ushers and playwright Jonathan Caren’s pen as he engraves a detailed map of privilege on our souls. For this writer, it is like learning anew- if not for the first time—what words like “privilege”, “white skin privilege” and “entitled” really mean."
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Amy Munice

City Pleasures - Highly Recommended

"...You’d think the meaty new production, The Recommendation, currently playing at Windy City Playhouse was tailor made for immersive theater. With a few accommodating revisions from playwright Johnathan Caren, director Jonathan Wilson and his creative team fused a suspenseful story of trust and friendship on a kinetic “living” stage; making the combined effect more powerful than you’d likely expect."
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Mitchell Oldham

  The Recommendation 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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