"In his thrillingly ritualistic yet richly emotional production for Chicago Shakespeare's Upstairs Theater, director Sean Graney has pulled out all the stops, creating a highly unstable medieval public square (with plenty of modern-day echoes) where most of the audience forms the walkabout crowd, while the rest watch from balcony seats, as if looking out their window."
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"Promenade stagings I’ve seen over the years in New York and London have generally been sedate affairs, wherein the audience wanders politely along pre-ordained tracks as if pondering artworks in a museum. Graney, who is making his much-anticipated debut with top-flight actors at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, does in-your-face promenade staging, Chicago-style.
A very arresting take on Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II."
"Deliciously dangerous... a stunning achievement.
Though obviously timeless, this concentrated focus on both mob mentality and leadership distracted by frivolity feels tailored to the moment.
Todd Rosenthal’s smartly gritty set allows a geographical fluidity that ensures the audience is part of the action rather than simply wandering observers, making Edward II feel deliciously dangerous. That’s just an illusion—the actors demonstrate absolute control of both the text and the traffic. Led by Chicago stalwart Karen Aldridge, at the top of her game as jilted Queen Isabella, and Jeffrey Carlson, a dynamic fop of fierce precision as the king, the entire exhilarating ensemble turns in masterful work. Graney’s Marlowe is a new high-water mark."
This is conceptual theater from beginning to end yet despite my interpretive biases I was jolted and absorbed with Graney’s beautiful, provocative and unsettling revival.
...the spectacle never overwhelms the script but takes it to new heights... The experience of watching this Edward II is a jolting one, and the promenade style that places audience members in and around the staging allows for the more memorable phenomenon of watching other audience members watching Edward II."