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  Tug Of War: Civil Strife at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Tug Of War: Civil Strife

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

Civil Strife is the second installment of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines' electrifying adaptation, Tug of War, which distills six Shakespeare plays into two action-packed dramas that trace the rise and fall of kings, and the uncommon courage of common men. In the spirit of addictive epic sagas, like Scandal and House of Cards, tensions build as the origin stories of Shakespeare's most iconic rulers unfold-underscored by stunning staging, live music, surprising poignancy and humor. Picking up where Tug of War: Foreign Fire left off, focus shifts to the home front in Civil Strife, as family divisions launch a country at war with itself in Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3 and Richard III-and nobility and commoners alike pay the price.

Thru - Oct 9, 2016



Price: $100

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Running Time: 6hrs

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  Tug Of War: Civil Strife Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...For those of us who know Gaines' work well, these two shows have emerged as a very full portrait of one of Chicago's most notable artists. There are flaws. We're all flawed, after all, and I think those moments flow from Gaines' passion for the political moment, not from any hubris. She's not that kind of director. On the contrary, she works here with coherence, passion, skin in the game, openness and a crystal-clear point of view. Worthy, indeed, of a city's respect."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...But it is Gaines, the tiny but mighty force behind Chicago Shakespeare - who founded the theater 30 years ago, and has overseen its mighty artistic and physical growth ever since - who deserves the credit here. Her love affair with Shakespeare, and her undying belief in his plays' ability to speak to us now, never wavers. And these two epics might well be her crowning achievement."
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Hedy Weiss


Daily Herald - Highly Recommended

"...Last spring, adapter/director Barbara Gaines and her superior ensemble served up "Foreign Fire." Comprised of William Shakespeare's "Edward III," "Henry V" and "Henry VI, part 1" and rooted in a century of conflict between England and France, the production was a bracing testament to war's inevitability. Now comes the rest of the feast."
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Barbara Vitello


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Chicago Shakespeare Theater's outsized and smartly honed two-part miniseries "Tug of War," focusing on the endless cycle of royal usurpation and bloodshed in the Bard's history plays, comes to its conclusion with a sequence that illuminates the brief reign and unsurprising death of horseless Richard III at Bosworth Field."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...As she unleashes the dogs of war (18 of Chicago's terrific thespians), Barbara Gaines rightfully and purposefully condenses six of the Bard's history plays into an action lesson in self-defeating slaughter. The result is a 12-hour carnival of cruelty, a tale of sound and fury signifying something-a throne so soaked in blood the wood should rot to the core. Perhaps not for all seasons or sensibilities, Tug of War is a ferocious feat. Now on Navy Pier, the past returns, helpless to prevent our future."
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Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...As terrific as this cast was, I was extremely impressed by Larry Yandos's Duke of York; Kevin Gudal's Earl of Warwick and Timothy Edward Kane's scary Richard III. When the key historical characters are presented so wonderfully like they need to be, an epic comes together nicely."
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Tom Williams


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...It goes without saying that watching Civil Strife is a lot like watching an entire miniseries at once, but Gaines's design team make use of the unique possibilities of the stage, instead of simply doing a live TV show. Susan E. Mickey's costumes and Melissa Veal's wigs and make-up are less on the abstract or supernatural side this time around, which benefits a show that doesn't leapfrog generations, as Foreign Fire did. But Lindsay Jones's sound design, as well as the Pink and Leonard Cohen-heavy musical selections, mesh seamlessly with the characters who are all epic heroes in their own minds (it's a wonder to watch the younger Richard lead the Yorks in a chorus of "Raise Your Glass")."
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Jacob Davis


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This is another epic production that is monumental in scope and style. It sparkles and stirs the emotions while delivering a somewhat condensed picture of British history. Watching these three plays woven together in such a seamless manner, we gain the knowledge and impact that history should provide, while coming to understand a little more about the figures who brought these bellicose events to light. The constant struggle for power and the quest for the crown has never been more exciting, understandable and mesmerizing."
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Colin Douglas


Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...The hero of the event, of course, is Barbara Gaines, who assumed the responsibility for converting several of Shakespeare's least known dramas into an absorbing panorama of an enormously destructive society. Gaines successfully climbed the mountain, her cast setting an exceptionally high bar for acting brilliance. The two "Tug of War" trilogies are a very long sit, and most likely no viewer wished them any longer than they were. But everyone who attended should feel lucky to be present."

Dan Zeff


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