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Theatre Tue May 25 2010

Review: Baal @ TUTA

"If someone understands a story," a character mutters during one of the more tedious stretches of Bertolt Brecht's 1918 play Baal, "it's been told badly." TUTA's production isn't told badly, necessarily. In fact, for its first hour, Baal is sloppy, riotous fun. But then it just keeps going. For a very long time. And once that first 60 minutes has passed, it's just not that horribly engaging. Once 90 minutes has passed, it's downright excruciating.


Photo by Vojkan Radonjic, Actors (from L to R): Dana Black, Rachel Rizzuto, Lindsey Gavel, Ian Westerfer, Jacqueline Stone, and Stacie Beth Green

It's not that I'm opposed to long theatre. I could've done with another three hours of Writers' excellent production of A Steetcar Named Desire a few weeks ago. But where that production rode on sharp storytelling, Brecht's script and TUTA's production place the emphasis on language and atmosphere to piece together the drunken exploits of the titular poet. This approach can be joyous and evocative in the right hands, but Brecht's script feels indulgent and repetitive and TUTA's ensemble, very few of whom stand out, seem content to just revel in it.

The music's gorgeous, though. Josh Schmidt's score is rustic and catchy, delivered with heart and gusto from the cast, especially Ian Westerfer, whose amazing marathon performance as Baal deserves accolades.

Did I understand it? Yes. But it's not told badly. I just didn't like it. There's a big difference.

Baal runs through June 20 at the Chopin Theatre Studio (1543 W. Division). Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are a $25 for adults and $20 for senior citizens and students. Tickets can be purchased online or an hour before the show at the door.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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