Shakespeare for My Father | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Shakespeare for My Father 

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I never thought very highly of Lynn Redgrave's post-Georgy Girl work, but this bold and moving one-woman show, which interweaves intimate family anecdotes with scenes and soliloquies from Shakespeare, bowled me over. Though the evening would be far more effective as a 90-minute one-act than in its present two-part format, Redgrave's uncompromising emotional exposure and good old-fashioned classical technique make this an unusually impressive work of stage art. Agile and energetic at 51, Redgrave is a gifted clown with an ugly-duckling vulnerability, and she puts these qualities to excellent use in this invocation cum exorcism of her devoted yet distant relationship with her dad, Shakespearean great Michael Redgrave. Redgrave's painful memories of her father's aloofness and absence--and her psychological speculation about the attention-seeking basis of her own art--are lightened by entertaining caricatures of such celebrities as Lynn Fontanne (after whom Redgrave is named), Laurence Olivier, and Noel Coward, Edith Evans, and Maggie Smith in a hilarious clash of wills. And though Redgrave's original material is far more effective than the Shakespearean segments, it's sometimes fascinating to hear the Bardic bits in this idiosyncratic context. Thomas Skelton's superb lighting enhances this fluid, nuanced performance directed by Redgrave's husband, John Clark. Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe, 902-1500. Through March 27: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $19.50-$42.

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