By the Water | Northlight Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Francis Guinan and Penny Slusher

Francis Guinan and Penny Slusher

Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 23 2017
Price: $30-$76, $15 students
Sharyn Rothstein’s 2014 play turns Tolstoy on his head: it's unhappy families who are all alike, at least when their unhappiness is pressed into a made-for-TV-style drama where everything—tax fraud, marital problems, Hurricane Sandy—is a plot device in service of a painfully predictable story. But it may not be all Rothstein’s fault. The pace of this Northlight production, directed by Cody Estle, feels slow, and even the cast of A-list actors, led by Chicago theater stalwarts Francis Guinan and Penny Slusher, seem off their game. It's hard not to wonder whether this paint-by-numbers script, with its many unsurprising last-act revelations, just benumbed them. —Jack Helbig

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