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  Tristan and Yseult at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Tristan and Yseult

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

The twelfth-century poem, transformed into a twenty-first century theater production, tells the story of a love triangle that envelops an Irish beauty, a Cornish king and a French knight. Reclaiming Cornwall's oldest love story, this audacious British company brings their brand of cheeky humor and Wagnerian intensity with a blend of comedy, live music, grand passion and tender truths.

Thru - Apr 13, 2014

Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Price: $60-$70

Stage: Courtyard Theater

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Running Time: 2hrs, 15mins; one intermission

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  Tristan and Yseult Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Outside of Cornwall and fans of the Wagner opera (from which Kneehigh is trying to reclaim the story), "Tristan & Yseult" is not exactly a box-office barnburner of a title. But I guarantee you will have a blast. This top-tier international work comes from a company very influenced by the neo-Brechtian, John McGrath-style tradition of good-night-out popular theater. It also embraces the kind of exuberant physicality that is not exactly the norm in Chicago. This is a fine piece to take a young person (teenage and older) who might think ancient literature is as dull as a night in Polperro after the pubs have closed."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...This production reminds us that love is a two-headed monster. It also asks: “Where does all the wasted love go?” But mostly it employs every playfully transformational trick of theater to probe the human heart and all its twisted impulses."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Over the course of 150 fast, exuberant, inventive minutes the weirdly jolly pathos of the unloved bonds with the exalted anguish of the lovers to produce a show that gets at each of a thousand paradoxes of love. Though not everything Kneehigh's done here makes sense on reflection (and the map of Georgia tattooed on Tristan's torso is a complete puzzlement), the execution is beautiful, sharp, hilarious, and deeply cathartic."
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Tony Adler

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...It seems near criminal that Kneehigh, the widely acclaimed, 30-year-old Cornwall-based company that began touring its work with Tristan & Yseult just over a decade ago, is just now making its Chicago debut. But it’s no surprise that Chicago Shakespeare’s indispensable World’s Stage series is what made it happen. If this potent potable doesn’t get you in the mood, check your pulse."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...Adapter-director Emma Rice, the company's co-artistic director, has reset the story in roughly the 1960s: Yseult of the White Hands wears a full skirt with a box hat. That works. What's less convincing is Rice's decision - with writers Carl Grose and Anna Maria Murphy - to set most of King Mark's speeches in iambic pentameter, often in rhymed couplets. The poetic imagery, especially in the rhymed endings, is too frequently pedestrian and forced."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Everything clicks in Kneehigh's modern medieval morality play-Stu Barker's eclectic score, Rice's sardonic script (wise in the wiles and waste of love), go-for-broke stage combat, funky dance breakouts, and manic, merry mugging. Most remarkable is how swiftly the staging sobers up to deliver the power of an eternal romance. When Whitehands plays Wagner on a teenbopper's record player, this gut-busting, eye-popping, and open-hearted Tristan & Yseult honors a glorious precedent. Laughter pays as much tribute as tears."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"... “Tristan & Yseult” challenges  a description, because it is zany, silly, wild beyond craziness; but at the same time, moving and profound.   The major theme…love…explores the complexity of loving in its many forms; those who are unloved, those searching for love, and those who love passionately.  The exploration presents many facets of love between  infatuated exuberance to painful betrayal. "
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Margaret Eva

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...I am not dismayed about the future of theater, not with Kneehigh touring the world and showing us what can be communicated. I want to proselytize a bit her about the Chicago Shakespeare World Stages Series: just go and see. You might not like it, you might not understand it, it might not always be your cup of tea (though I doubt it). CST curates exceptional work for us, and travels the world to bring it back. In this day and age it's a headache and a half to bring foreign countries in, but in a global creative economy we need to see what's out there. As an artistic community we need to support these short run visits, and be stimulated and challenged and transformed."

Angela Allyn

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This production is one people will be asking their friends if they've seen and unfortunately, because of its short stay in Chicago, the answer may be, "No, I missed it." Don't! This funny, romantic, inventive retelling of a familiar story will be a theatrical experience that audiences who recognize an excellent opportunity for enjoyment and new experiences will always remember with fondness."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...TRISTAN & YSEULT is an amazing spectacle. Music Director Ian Ross keeps the tempo and tune perfect for the different scenes. It sounds like Wagner meets the blues with a side of be-bop. And visually, the show is a stunner. Designer Bill Mitchell creates this industrial and functional framework for the story. The bare bones scenery allows the costumes, the movements, and the sublime ensemble to fill the stage with human vibrancy. The ongoing emotional entanglements are connectable. Every loving and unloving memory of our own search for true love reflects back from the stage in a heartfelt, heart-tugging and heartbreaking way. We become honorary members of the Club of the Unloved. And despite what the ensemble proclaims I find the geek squad and their show completely lovable! LOVED it! To feel the love, get tickets ASAP!"

Katy Walsh

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