Throughout the country, critics are praising the world premiere of The Adventures of Augie March. The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout called the play “a light-on-its-feet triumph,” and Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune awarded the production four stars and wrote that the production is “dazzlingly creative” and “intensely moving.” Audiences and critics alike agree that Charle Newell’s production is an epic theatrical event. See for yourself what the buzz is about — get tickets to The Adventures of Augie March.
“The resultant show is very clever, and Bellow, always a bit cleverer than his cleverest characters, deserved a clever show. It will hold your attention for all three of its acts…the performances in the show are of a thrillingly high level, Newell preferring innately theatrical actors, here equally rooted, like the novel they are performing, in the corporal as well as the intellectual.”
“Every bit as ambitious as the 600-page book on which it’s based. Staged with staggering éclat by Charles Newell, the Court’s artistic director, it is totally and triumphantly successful…If Tracy Letts’s “August: Osage County,” another big-boned play that started life on a Chicago stage before moving to New York, was capable of hitting big on Broadway, then I see no reason why this similarly proportioned show can’t pull off the same improbable feat—given a producer with vision who’s ready to roll the dice. Here’s hoping.”
“As Augie, Mulvey brings a natural ease and charm that rarely seems to exist on the page: He bridges the gaps between the man himself and the attraction Augie holds to other people. Mulvey is supported by a fine ensemble, led by Cross and Judd, that likewise infuses the show with life. Using often little more than some chairs, some tables, a few white curtains and the bodies of those ensemble members, Newell and movement consultant Erin Kilmurray create a roiling sea of action, part modern dance, part devised theater, part clown show.”
“Newell’s 13 actors (all of whom except Mulvey play multiple roles) negotiate the shifts in vernacular and locale with precision and panache. John Culbert’s gloomy black-beamed set and chiaroscuro lighting provide a somber counterpoint to the story’s fantastical elements, while Manual Cinema’s shadow puppetry enhances them…in Auburn’s imagining and Mulvey’s performance, he embraces the moment in which he is living with an open heart. Newell’s staging also embraces each moment with a bold and refreshingly uncynical sense of theatrical flair.”
“Auburn collaborated with Court Theatre artistic director Charles Newell, who directs this world premiere, and took advantage of the university’s Special Collections Research Center, the repository of Bellow’s papers — Bellow attended the university and served on the faculty. The result is a theatrical triumph that celebrates the freewheeling spirit of the book.”
“Once the house lights go down, Chicago’s immigrant ecosystem of the late 1920s and early 30s springs to life. Playwright David Auburn who adapted Bellow’s novel, director Charles Newell and movement specialist Erin Kilmurray convey this coming of age tale with rough and tumble vitality. The visual palette is somber enough but the story teems with a rainbow’s range.”
“Newell’s direction is brilliant here…Even Newell’s stage transitions happen so naturally that they simply seem a part of the ongoing action. Add to that the multitude of roles that the ensemble has to assume, and the director clearly had to work some magic to keep them all clear and distinct. And the performances he gets from members of the ensemble (especially Aurora Real de Asua as Augie’s platonic friend Mimi) are completely wonderful.”
“Maybe the most ambitious single project in the theater’s long and innovative history…Director Charles Newell superbly pulls the complex project together, with my interest actually increasing as the play went on. The team of designers provides invaluable creative and artistic input—John Culbert (scenic and light design), Sally Dolembo (costumes), and Andre Pluess (sound). A special salute goes to Manuel Cinema Studios for its spectacular puppet designs, especially the most inventive shadow puppetry I’ve ever seen.”
“Saul Bellow would approve of Court Theatre’s exhilarating production of The Adventures of Augie March…Patrick Mulvey is so right as Augie that one could almost believe he was created to play this part.”
“Labeling a work of art a “masterpiece” is a dangerous business, but on rare occasions there can be no doubt that such a tag is unavoidable. And Court Theatre’s world premiere production of The Adventures of Augie March – Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn’s ingenious stage adaptation of Saul Bellow’s nearly 600-page novel, which has been brilliantly directed by Charles Newell, and is being performed by a uniformly virtuosic cast – is an example of just such a case.”
Photo by Michael Brosilow.