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Theatre Tue Feb 08 2011

Goodman's 'Trinity River Plays' Another Success For Regina Taylor

Playwright Regina Taylor has made a name for herself in Chicago theater through several productions with Goodman over the past few years. 2009's Magnolia was loosely based on Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, and Taylor's interest in Chekov's style is evident in Goodman's current production, The Trinity River Plays, which closes on February 20th.

This is the Chicago premiere of Trinity River, which debuted in Dallas, where the play is set, last October. Through the course of three plays, Jar Fly, Rain and Ghoststory, we learn about Iris Spears (Karen Aldridge) and her family as they try to make the best of the various hardships that life has given them, occasionally letting their true feelings about each other and their shared histories burst forth. Jar Fly presents Iris as a nerdy but hopeful 17-year-old, and the latter two plays revisit Iris and her family 17 years later. The women in the cast dominate the action, but struggle with decisions about men, independence, and family, as well as the long-term results of such decisions made in their youth. Taylor, like Chekov, has an astonishing ability to let her characters speak at length and reveal very deep truths about their world and their emotions without seeming unnatural or didactic. Iris and her family members float from bubbly conversations to scathing arguments and back, but the movement always feels organic.

For some, a major drawback to The Trinity River Plays will be its length - each play is about an hour long, with two 15-minute intermissions. Perhaps this extended evening of theatre another nod to Chekov. But those who show up ready for a night of thrilling performances and revealing dialogue will not be disappointed. Each act is riveting, and the continuity of characters and locations make the show more like one big play than three separate shows. I was eager to return to my seat after each intermission to find out what was next for Iris and her family, even as part of me was frightened to face whatever challenges lay ahead for them. It is a great credit to Taylor that she can inspire such emotions in her audience, making them mirror the nervous anticipation that her characters feel for their own lives, and that we all, at some level, experience in our daily lives. If that's not a reason to go to the theater, then I don't know what is.

Trinity River Plays runs through February 20th at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at (312) 443-3800.

 
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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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