The Columnist | Stage 773 | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Philip Earl Johnson

Philip Earl Johnson

Johnny Knight

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 1 2017
Price: $29-$49
In his well-built and weighty if occasionally ossified 2012 drama, playwright David Auburn crafts a compelling portrayal of renowned syndicated columnist Joe Alsop. An erudite political junkie (“Politics is life!” he insists) who craves access to and influence over the Washington elite, he yearns for exuberant conservatism, mistakes his opinions for edicts, and buries himself in work to avoid the messiness of human connection. But only after intermission does Auburn progress from mounting a robust documentary to crafting a play with pressing stakes—for the increasingly dogmatic Alsop, his ineffectual but devoted brother Stewart, and his heartbreakingly unnecessary wife, Susan. Under Keira Fromm’s meticulous yet elastic direction, this ultimately exhilarating American Blues production is an astute cautionary tale about how hubris, ideology, and loyalty obscure vision. The cast, led by a gripping Philip Earl Johnson, are precise, impassioned, and deeply affecting. —Justin Hayford



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