Franklinland | The Frontier | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Joel Maisonet

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Feb. 24 2018
Price: $30, $20 students and seniors
Director Chika Ike gives New York playwright Lloyd Suh’s 75-minute historical romp a tasty world premiere at Jackalope. Suh reimagines Benjamin Franklin as a self-aggrandizing gasbag perpetually stage-managing his illegitimate son William’s life in hopes of forcing a hint of greatness from his manifestly unimaginative progeny—only to have him end up royal colonial governor of New Jersey, a position no better than dog catcher in Franklin’s eyes. The father-son rivalry is at once idiosyncratic and iconic, giving much of the gleefully anachronistic play a quirky resonance, and Ike’s quick-witted, poker-faced cast add an unlikely layer of emotional poignancy. While Suh ultimately takes on too much (the birth of America, for starters), requiring him to churn out a disappointingly conventional climax, the lead-up is captivating. —Justin Hayford



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