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Theater

‘Grand Concourse’ play review

Make It Better, July 24, 2015 — Young people can be so puzzling to older generations. Countless articles have asked, “What’s up with millennials, anyway?” And several recent plays at Steppenwolf Theatre, including “The Night Alive” and “Airline Highway,” zeroed in on this struggle for comprehension across the generational divide. In each of these plays, the story is propelled by the arrival of a young woman among a group of older adults… Read the review of Grand Concourse at Steppenwolf Theatre.

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Theater

Play review: ‘The Herd’

Make It Better magazine, April 14, 2015 — Like so many other plays before it, “The Herd” is about a family gathering that turns into a moment of crisis and confrontation. It’s a familiar formula, but British actor-playwright Rory Kinnear’s drama is an exceptionally well-written take on this scenario. Read my review for Make It Better.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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Theater

Play reviews: Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep

Make It Better magazine, March 9, 2015 — Steppenwolf, one of Chicago’s most famous and venerated theaters, brings attention to lesser-known theatrical companies once a year with a festival called Garage Rep… Read my review for Make It Better.

Photo by Anna Sodziak

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Theater

Play review: ‘The Night Alive’

Make It Better magazine, October 1, 2014 — Ghosts and devils often mingle with living human beings in Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s dramas. If there are any supernatural elements in his latest play—which is debatable—they aren’t quite so obvious… Read my review in Make It Better.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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Theater

Play review: ‘Russian Transport’

Make It Better magazine, February 1, 2014 — The characters in “Russian Transport” sprinkle their conversations with Russian phrases. Sometimes, they switch over to the language of their motherland for a whole sentence or two. But you don’t need to be fluent in Russian to understand what they’re talking about… Read my review in Make It Better.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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Theater

Play review: ‘Tribes’

Make It Better magazine, December 1, 2013 — The tribe at the center of “Tribes” is an argumentative English family, a bunch of Brits who are prone to shouting matches and cruel taunts. Except, that is, for Billy, one of three adult children in this combative clan… Read my review in Make It Better.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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Theater

Play review: ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

The Huffington Post, December 16, 2010 — Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre is on a hot streak. One of the reasons is its strong ensemble of actors… Read my review at the Huffington Post.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

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Theater

Play review: ‘The Brother/Sister Plays’

The Huffington Post, April 17, 2010 — There are at least two levels in just about every great piece of theater. On one level, we should believe the characters we’re seeing onstage are real. On another level, we’re fully aware of the fact that we’re watching a performance… Read my review at the Huffington Post.

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Theater

John Mahoney discusses ‘The Seafarer’

This article by Robert Loerzel originally appeared in Pioneer Press on December 3, 2008.

When John Mahoney needed a refresher course on how to do a Dublin accent, he went straight to an expert — the acclaimed Irish actor Gabriel Byrne.

Mahoney, the Oak Park actor best known for his role in the 1993-2004 sitcom “Frazier,” was working on his brogue for the new Colin McPherson play “The Seafarer,” which begins previews Thursday, Dec. 4, at Steppenwolf Theatre. And by a lucky coincidence, Mahoney is spending his Mondays and Tuesdays in New York acting alongside Byrne in season 2 of the HBO series “In Treatment.”

In between takes for the HBO show, Mahoney would chat with Byrne, a Dublin native, paying close attention to the lilt of his voice. Byrne even taped himself reading lines from Mahoney’s script of “The Seafarer.”

“Does it help!” Mahoney says.

Of course, it might also help that Mahoney grew up in England, and that he had a grandfather from Ireland. “I have a lot of Irish in me,” he says. But Mahoney deliberately lost his British accent when he moved to the United States as a young man.

This is Mahoney’s second time acting in a McPherson play directed by Randall Arney, after appearing in Arney’s production of “The Weir” at Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. In “The Seafarer,” Mahoney plays Richard, the cantankerous brother of Sharky (Francis Guinan), who receives a mysterious visit from a man (Tom Irwin) seeking payment on an old debt.

“The climax takes place during a card game, where the stranger tries to exact this debt that Sharkey owes him,” Mahoney says. “I’m a filthy old drunk, recently blind, chronically hung over. We’ve always had problems with each other, but underneath it all, we’re brothers and we’ll look out for each other. I’ll say terrible things about him, but I’ll kill anybody who says anything about him to me.”

It’s one of two McPherson plays the Steppenwolf is staging this season, following “Dublin Carol” starring William Petersen, which runs through Jan. 4.

Meanwhile, Mahoney’s playing a CEO going through therapy with Byrne’s psychiatrist character on “In Treatment,” which will air in the spring.

“I’ve been offered a few pilots for sitcoms, but I just don’t want to leave home again,” Mahoney says. “Mostly I’ve been on stage. It’s my first love. I don’t care if I ever go in front of a camera again, really. But I couldn’t turn ‘In Treatment’ because the script was too great.”

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