The Playboy of the Western World | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Playboy of the Western World 

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Celebrating its centenary, Dublin's Abbey Theatre is touring the drama that brought it renown and controversy in 1907. J.M. Synge's rhapsodic masterwork exposes the blighted inhabitants of a seaside dump in County Mayo, where cruelty is taken as courage and a peasant lad who kills his father becomes a hero. (It's the strangest coming-of-age comedy ever.) Rather than being lifted up by Synge's lyrical script, Ben Barnes's staging seems to carry the weight of nearly a century: this Playboy is a dark, pitiless retelling of an already ugly story. Tom Vaughan Lawlor brings coarse credibility to the title role of Christy but seems more ordinary than poignant. As Pegeen, hardened by life in her father's pub, Cathy Belton beautifully blossoms into her romance with Christy. Playing man-hungry, good-natured Widow Quin, Olwen Fouere is full of unexpected wisdom. Through 12/12: a schedule follows. Through 12/5: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 7 PM. Then 12/7-12/12: Tue 7:30 PM, Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600 (TTY 312-595-5699). $50-$70.

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