Hedy Weiss Reviews: ‘War Paint,’ ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ More

Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss rounds up her recent recommendations, including a Pulitzer prize-winning play at Steppenwolf Theatre, a pair of one-man shows and productions starring Tony award-winning actors.


War Paint”
Highly recommended
When: 
Through Aug. 21
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. 
Run time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, with one intermission

(Joan Marcus)(Joan Marcus)

“'War Paint,' inspired by Lindy Woodhead’s book of the same name, and by 'The Powder & the Glory,' the documentary by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman, features a finely crafted book by Doug Wright ('I Am My Own Wife');  a moving, richly varied score by his 'Grey Gardens' partners, composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, and fluid direction by Michael Greif. But of course it is the portrayal of the two powerful personalities at the show’s center that is of the essence.'” Read Weiss' full review. 


C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert
Highly recommended
When: 
Through Aug. 14
Where: Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport
Run time: 80 minutes, with no intermission

“McLean, who has adapted the show from Lewis’ autobiography, 'Surprised by Joy,' his 'Collected Letters' and other works, finds Lewis in middle age, and looking back at the momentous evolution that occurred in his thinking and spiritual outlook from childhood on. A masterful actor, he instantly convinces you that you are in the presence of C.S. Lewis himself, with the distinctive speech and bespectacled persona of the man enhanced by the elegant but lived-in three-piece suit supplied by costume designer Michael Bevins.” Read Weiss' full review.


The Ben Hecht Show
Highly recommended
When:
Through Aug. 14
Where: Piven Theater, 927 Noyes St., Evanston
Run time: 95 minutes, with no intermission

“Based on Hecht’s books, 'A Guide For the Bedevilled' and the autobiographical 'A Child Of the Century,' and directed by Dennis Zacek, the show homes in on the moment when, in 1941 – by the time Hitler had murdered about two million of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust – he was approached to join the Fight for Freedom Committee. Sherman does a fine job of bringing Hecht’s self-deprecating form of self-realization into play as he opens the door to serious questions but never forgets the advice he was given about always injecting humor into his arguments. The chronology of the show can be a bit murky at times (a program insert with crucial dates and people would be helpful), but the storytelling is engaging. And the story could not be more timely.” Read Weiss' full review.


The Grapes of Wrath
Highly recommended
When:
Through Aug. 14
Where: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. 
Run time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, with one intermission

“'The Grapes of Wrath,' one of the greatest of all epic American journeys, is now being played out on The Gift Theatre’s slender strip of a storefront stage by a magnificent company of actors that easily lives up to the starry original cast featured in the 1988 Steppenwolf Theatre production so beautifully adapted for the stage by Frank Galati. That might sound like hyperbole, but this revival is a stunner. And if you make only one trip to the theater this summer, this should be your destination.” Read Weiss' full review. 


Between Riverside and Crazy
Highly recommended
When: 
Through Aug. 21
Where: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted Ave. 
Run time: 2 hours, with one intermission

“Yes, Guirgis’ mix of hyper-reality, social commentary and sitcom appeal deals with the police, and criminals, and race, and political corruption. But more than any of that his play is about how individual character flaws shape destiny, how the quest for success and financial security can warp everyone, and how most people tend to be a mix of angel and devil at any given moment.” Read Weiss' full review. 


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