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Critics Issue Opinions on ‘The Originalist’

Edward Gero as Justice Antonin ScaliaSince opening night on May 19, critics have issued their opinions of The Originalist. While the majority opinion recommends the production, Chris Jones over at the Chicago Tribune offers a mild dissent. In the spirit of civil discourse, we present you with a variety of critic viewpoints. But don’t let them decide; join us at Court Theatre and you be the judge. The Originalist is on stage through June 10.

“It depicts robust, aggressive, passionate disagreement in a context of respect and developing friendship. It accepts power and winning as measures of success, but decency and kindness as even more important measures of a person. In that regard, it feels like a play we need right now.”
-Chicago Sun Times, Steven Oxman, ★★★

The Originalist triumphs by uniting a stimulating script with a fascinating central character and an exceptional lead performance. [. . . ] Love him or hate him, Antonin Scalia is wonderful company for an evening. For this boon to audiences, Edward Gero and John Strand deserve much thanks.”
-Chicagoland Theater Reviews, Dan Zeff, ★★★

“Court Theatre, under the leadership of Charles Newell, continues to bring topnotch and relevant productions to the community [. . .] The Originalist is another worthy production that will not disappoint.”
-Around the Town Chicago, Michael Horn, ★★★

“A doppelganger for the late justice, Gero thoroughly inhabits the role of Scalia in John Strand’s 2015 play, The Originalist. Shuffling across the stage, singing an aria, debating legal points, Gero is Scalia, never out of character until after he takes a final bow and exits the stage sans shuffle.”
-Splash Magazines, Leanne Star

“Court Theatre brings us a masterpiece that is interesting, thought-provoking and an exhilarating debate in The Originalist by John Strand.”
-ChicagoNow, Rick and Brenda McCain

“Do plan to leaf through the copy of the US Constitution handed to you with your program with new eyes, renewed reverence, and passion. That you will likely do so speaks to the considerable power of this play.  Plan to be engaged anew in the visions of our founding fathers.”
-Picture This Post, Amy Munice

“Scalia, one imagines, would have liked being back in Hyde Park. I just think a man of his heft would have preferred to be at the center of a more complicated play, and a more truthful production. And most liberals — who may well find the characterization here of Scalia as a lovable, kind, brilliant and principled curmudgeon infuriating — would not disagree.”
-Chicago Tribune, Chris Jones, 2.5 Stars

“Gero’s portrayal of Scalia is impeccable. He captures the late justice’s penchant for showmanship, his sharp sense of humor, pugilistic stubbornness, and general mannerisms… Strand’s message of open-mindedness and respectful discourse still shines through, and makes The Originalist a worthwhile watch for anyone willing to challenge their own, seemingly unbendable, political stance.”
-Chicago Maroon, Patrick Egon

“… Strand delivers a think piece that pushes people to consider standing on a middle ground, where we acknowledge diverse voices and ideas, even if we do not always agree with them… I believe people will find inspiring hope in The Originalist because it romanticizes the possibilities of what we could become if we work together to find common ground.
-Performink, Naima Dawson

“There’s little Americans like more than a legal drama—the upstart v. the establishment, the idealist v. the realist, the new v. the old—may the winner expose our present moral condition through a fistfight sublimated into debate… But “The Originalist” does not deliver the customary satisfaction through exploration of the case…”
-Newcity, Irene Hsaio

The Court Theatre production, directed by Molly Smith, proves that although Scalia may have been a “monster,” as his opponents called him (to his delight), he was really a charming monster… Edward Gero, who also has played Scalia from the beginning, is masterful at recreating the justice’s style and bearing. Wheeler, who performed in two other productions of The Originalist, is superb as Cat.”
-Third Coast Review, Nancy Bishop

The play features two fine lead performers. Edward Gero is the proudly conservative Scalia, who is a self-described “originalist” in his interpretations of the US. Constitution. An “originalist” is an individual who believes in the literal, original meaning of a text.”
-Buzz, Syd Slobodnik

“The play’s premise could have been lifted from a 1940s screwball comedy—verbally adept conservative white male judge hires an equally verbally adept liberal, female, African-American law clerk … their constant sparring does have a rom-com feel to it, and that adds yet another layer to this rich, fascinating, exceptionally well-written and well-acted play.”
-Chicago Reader, Jack Helbig

“a fascinating, provocative evening of theatre firing on all cylinders … John Strand’s The Originalist is a richly-complicated exploration of The Honorable Antonin Scalia, showcasing a superb performance by Edward Gero.”
-Conversations with Ed Tracy

Photo of Edward Gero as Justice Antonin Scalia by Gary W. Sweetman

Posted on May 22, 2018 in Productions

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