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Audiences and Reviewers Agree: FEN is “Stellar”

A group of women sit at a table with books. One woman stands in the center of the group with her hand raised to the ceiling; the other three women look at her with love, respect, and admiration. The woman seated at the far left of the group looks bored.
Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel, Lizzie Bourne, Genevieve VenJohnson, Elizabeth Laidlaw, and Morgan Lavenstein by Michael Brosilow.

With an enthusiastic, full house and glowing reviews, Fen‘s opening night was a resounding success.

Caryl Churchill’s story is as hauntingly beautiful as the design elements, and the performances are nuanced and achingly human. Fen stays with you long after you leave the theatre, as audience members and reviewers agree!

Fen runs now through March 5th. Don’t miss your chance to see the ambitious, visceral work of “one of England’s most inventive and finest avant-garde playwrights” – get your tickets today!

“Fascinating; any fan of Churchill’s plays will likely feel this is an evening well spent.”

— Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

Fen proves genuinely worthy of unearthing. Thanks to a stellar production from Vanessa Stalling, directing a crazy-good cast, this 40-year-old play comes across as strikingly contemporary in its aesthetics and surprisingly relatable in its milieu…In Fen, Churchill reaches deep down into the community’s psyche, digging out the dreams and dark desires and intense frustrations that lie underneath, until the surface reality can no longer hold. The play operates on so many levels — the sociopolitical, the psychological, the supernatural and, most of all, the theatrical.”

Chicago Sun-Times, 3.5 out of 4 stars

“In this universe of privation, where birth, love, death, drugs, and Jesus can bring no redemption, why go on?…And yet, despite the dust and dark, there are brief moments of connection and community….Throughout the play the women sing, sometimes alone but best of all together, creating temporary harmonies, a loveliness seemingly from nothing, breathed, voiced, created, experienced, then gone, a vibration that passes through like a ghost of a hope that can’t quite exist in this universe yet somehow does.”

Chicago Reader, Reader Recommended

“Directed by Vanessa Stalling, this raw, brutal and amazing play dives into deep places of female sorrow and longing. Like its setting, it can be tough to navigate. But it cultivates empathy, which is one of the main reasons for art.”

NewCity Stage, Recommended

“Ms. Stalling’s skillfully taken her cast through the evolution of the many characters they all portray. She has shaped and crafted this entire production, making it one of the most poignant and passionate productions in recent memory…Each of the six actors in this production are incredibly and equally fantastic. This talented ensemble cast features electrifying performances by every single person on the Court stage…All of these dramatic fragments add up to a most powerful, compelling and hard-to-forget evening of theatre, as told by one of England’s most inventive and finest avant garde playwrights, the brilliant Caryl Churchill.”

Chicago Theatre Review, Highly Recommended

“The play gives us a succinct portrait of the increasingly impersonal nature of the landowners, as local farms and the estates of gentry alike are snapped up by ever-larger global agri-businesses. It is in the exploration of these aspects of the Fenland that Churchill’s immense skills as a wordsmith and playwright shine. It is why she is regarded as a pre-eminent English playwright, and the chance to see a serious presentation of any of Churchill’s works is not to be missed….Churchill’s script has been given a fully realized production, with a beautifully constructed set (scenic Design by Collette Pollard) dominated by rows of potato fields, the stage big enough for a full-sized tractor to roll through. Director Vanessa Stalling orchestrates excellent performances from a sprawling roster of 22 characters, played by just six actors, as is the playwright’s intent.”

— Buzz Center Stage

“Some of the actors play as many as three to four characters…Lizzie Bourne, Morgan Lavenstein and Genevieve VenJohnson were all exceptional as they morphed from one character to another…By lifting the veil and showing the degree of damage stifled lives can wreak in women, Churchill completes an unfinished picture of the collateral cost of caste.”

— City Pleasures

“Under the  skillful direction of Vanessa Stalling…these actors to portray the various characters so perfectly. Each one is so different from the other.”

Around the Town Chicago, 4 out of 5 stars

“All the characters have unique stories of trauma and triumph. Still, this mysteriously tantalizing play is more about people and how they are treated and affected by the land and their environment.”

Let’s Play Theatrical Reviews

Posted on February 22, 2023 in Productions

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