Wednesday August 23rd 2017


When is a lie not a lie? Each of us, in our lives has times when telling the truth can be quite painful and yet, telling an untruth may be even more so. Bill Cain’s “Equivocation” now on stage at Victory Gardens Theater ( near the end of the run, by the way) is a tale that takes us back to 1606 as a down and out playwright, who he has named Shagspeare, receives a royal commission to write a play and perform it with his band of co-operative actors. The play is more propaganda than play and the desire is to promote the government’s version of the treacherous “Gunpowder Plot” by Guy Fawkes. Shag ( as they call him) played to perfection by Marc Grapey is caught between a rock and a hard place. Can he write a play that is in fact a lie to earn this commission? Or write the truth and find himself hanged?

Along with his group of actors, all partners in his co-op production company, he struggles through how he can keep all parties happy and survive. There is much comedy in this political look at the relationship between art and politics and while the idea itself may seem inane, the cleverness of the writing and the slick direction by Sean Graney ( one of the cleverest of our local directors) makes this piece work! Can “Shag” save his actors, tell the truth? Rewrite history ? Gain the love of his daughter after many years of  non-communication? These are some of the mysteries that must be solved during this 2 1/2 hour production that will continue only until October 14th. I myself have a truth to bring to you- because of the High Holy Days and a great number of openings during the last 20 some days, I was forced to choose which to see first and for some reason, had to put this one off. Being only one person, it is often my choice to select one play over another and often I select the ones that I feel will be most accepted by you, my readers. Hearing the “buzz” about this one, I redid my schedule to make sure that I could review the show for you and am extremely glad that I did. This was a fun show ith some unexpected laughs and a marvelous cast of players.

Graney has, along with Grapey, Matt Kahler,Mark Montgomery, Arturo Soria ( a bright new talent who truly shows off his versatility), th eincrddible Bruce A. Young ( always a treat to watch) and lovely Minita Gandhi as  Shag’s daughter Judith ( who does some very funny bits herself). These actors handles different roles as we witness plays within the play about a play that is being written, based on some fact and some fiction of what the “poloitocs” want and what art demands. One might draw some political cat and mouse games of today in these little bits, but I can guarantee some good laughs and some thought provoking ideas to ponder during this an election year. There are discussions after the performances which are always fun and mind opening, so do stay.

William Boles set is a backstage area that becomes several different areas of the theater as well as places in the Kingdom- very flexible and never a detraction from the fun on the stage. Janice Pytel’s costumes are clever;Heather Gilbert has some great lighting effects and Kevin ‘Donnell’s sound and music are delightful additions to a solid performance piece. Ryan Bourque handles the fight choreography to make sure that the actors do not suffer the pain that appears to be very real. Once again, Chicago audiences are luck to have Victory Gardens doing some new and unusual works in order to reach out to a broader audience. This one does just that; whether young or old, you will find this production a true theatrical experience, solid in every way!

“Equivocation” will continue at The Biograph/Victory Gardens Theater located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue through October 14th with performances on:

Tuesdays,Wednesdays,Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. (no Thursday on 10/11),Saturdays at 4 p.m and 7:30 p.m. . and Sundays at 3 p.m.

ickets range from $20 -$50 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-871-3000 or online at or

Special programs for hearing impaired and other access programs- visit the website for more info on student and senior specials.

The theater is easy to reach by public transportation, they have valet parking, metered street parking and discounted parking  just south of the theater on Lincoln Avenue in what used to be the Children’s memorial Hospital Parking lot.

For other views, go to my homepage, click on theatreinchicago and visit review round-up- click on “Equivocation”


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