Paradise Lost | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Paradise Lost 

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Clifford Odets's follow-up to Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing! was this "fuzzy piece of a wool-gathering quiet," as its original director, Harold Clurman, put it. In Louis Contey's finely honed staging, the struggling Depression-era middle-class Gordon family face their disintegrating dreams with a mix of stoicism and bitterness. Janet Ulrich Brooks as matriarch Clara, a character who could easily feel like a palimpsest of Awake's Bessie Berger, is a compelling blend of vinegar and sugar. Not everyone in the ensemble is as comfortable as she is with Odets's rhythms, but no one resorts to cheap mannerisms. Karen Hoffman's imaginative set, edging into expressionism, adds a fresh take on a play whose themes still resonate in these days of rampant foreclosures. a Through 10/21: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, TimeLine Theatre Company, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall Theatre, 615 W. Wellington (courtyard entrance), 773-281-8463, $25-$30. --Kerry Reid

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