As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Thursday, December 14

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« Mend Thine Every Flaw Exhibition at Heaven Gallery Hubbard Street Wows With Winter Series »

Theater Mon Dec 08 2014

Irish Theatre's Shining City : A Ghost Story in a Therapist's Office

GB-ShiningCity-2.jpg
Photo by Emily Schwartz.

The setting is a dingy therapist's office in Dublin. Ian (Coburn Goss), a former priest, is preparing his new office for his first client. Over the course of the 100-minute, five-scene, production, the office is the scene of poignant therapy sessions with John (Brad Armacost), Ian's breakup with his fiancée Neasa (Carolyn Kruse), and his hookup with Laurence (Shane Kenyon), a young man who he meets in the park. Conor McPherson's Shining City is beautifully and subtly written and may remind you of the ghosts of your own haunted past.

Irish Theatre's director Jeff Christian does a credible job directing this script, which is a series of conversations, sometimes quiet, sometimes emotional. Nothing much happens. Everyone is lonely and needy. As the play opens, John comes to Ian for help with the guilt he feels over the death of his wife, Mari, in a taxi accident and her continued haunting presence in his house.

The high point of the play is Armacost's long monologue in scene 3, in which he bares his heart, soul and the traumatic last days before his wife is killed. We learn that he feels guilty because of an episode of infidelity; he tells how he bought Mari an expensive red coat to assuage his guilt. The monologue goes on for at least 20 minutes. Armacost's performance is nuanced and moving and worth the price of sitting through the rest of the play, which sometimes drags. Goss has a difficult role to play throughout this scene. As the therapist, he can only nod occasionally and look sympathetic.

In the final scene, everyone is moving on. Ian is packing up his office to move to Limerick to be with his fiancée and child. John has moved house, is dressed more spiffily and has a girlfriend. But the scene is still haunted.

Armacost is a veteran of Irish Theatre productions as well as many other major Chicago shows. His experience and talent are crucial here. Kruse and Kenyon both handle their single scenes well. Kruse as Neasa tries to understand why Ian is leaving her and their baby, while Kenyon as Laurence portrays a troubled young man with his own child and no home or work.

Transitions between scenes are handled with minimal fuss, as McPherson suggests in his stage directions. With dimmed light, Ian moves a chair, adds a prop or two, and adds or removes an item of clothing. The costuming by Allison Amidei and set design by Ira Amyx and John Peplinski are very efficient. Julian Pike's lighting design suggests changes in time of day. Original music by Matt Kahler and Jeff Christian bridges the scenes effectively.

McPherson's 2004 play is described as an Irish ghost story. It's a quiet play and probably not as viscerally memorable as The Seafarer, which the Irish Theatre (then known as Seanachai Theatre Company) produced a year ago to great acclaim. That was also a ghost story, in which Richard (played by Armacost) plays cards with the mysterious Mr. Lockhart, who assuredly is the devil. McPherson also wrote The Night Alive, which won many awards this year and had a fine Steppenwolf production in November. His other plays include The Weir, Dublin Carol, Port Authority and This Lime Tree Bower, all of which have had recent Chicago productions.

Shining City will be on stage at the Den Theatre, 1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. through Jan. 4. Tickets are $26-30 and can be purchased online or by calling 773-878-3727.

 
GB store
GB store

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 »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15