The House of Blue Leaves | Raven Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Sarah Hayes and Jon Steinhagen in The House of Blue Leaves

Sarah Hayes and Jon Steinhagen in The House of Blue Leaves

Tom McGrath

The House of Blue Leaves 

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 18 2016
Price: $17-$42
John Guare's 1971 breakthrough play is a comedy about despair. Complaining that he's "too old to be a young talent," 45-year-old zoo employee Artie Shaughnessy writes bad songs and performs them for oblivious audiences at open mikes. His wife, Bananas, is nuts. His son, Ronnie, ditto. His childhood friend, Billy, is a movie director whose big-time success makes Artie's failures all the more agonizing. The only bright spot in Artie's life is his chaste affair with Bunny—a great cook who nevertheless refuses to feed him unless he runs away with her. The most significant of several problems with JoAnn Montemurro's staging is that it pushes the comedy at the expense of the despair and therefore culminates in a surprise ending rather than a powerful one. For all that, Kelli Strickland supplies an interesting Bananas. But Sarah Hayes tries way too hard as Bunny. —Tony Adler

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