by Lee Blessing | directed by Nick Bowling
PIONEER PRESS FEATURE
Myrna Petlicki interviews actors Janet Ulrich Brooks and David Parkes about their work on A Walk in the Woods: "Parkes believes the play resonates today in that it poses the question of 'the value of sitting down with our 'enemies' and really recognizing the commonalities that may exist between both sides so that we can find agreement.'"
Host Jerome McDonnell interviews playwright Lee Blessing and actors Janet Ulrich Brooks and David Parkes in this enlightening in-depth segment, including a scene performed by the actors.
"Highly Recommended ... a finely acted revival-with-a-twist ... The two actors are compellingly watchable (and listenable) ... Unspooling in four encounters over as many seasons — all beautifully evoked through the design work of Brian Sidney Bembridge (set and lighting), Mike Tutaj (projections) and Jacqueline Firkin (costumes) — the actors winningly suggest the darker reality of their verbal and psychological game-playing."
"Classy and stimulating ... Actress Janet Ulrich Brooks, one of the most formidable weapons in the TimeLine arsenal, shares the stage with David Parkes ... These two actors are both honest, skillful players, and their dance of negotiation is certainly entertaining. Brooks, in particular, finds all kinds of shading, and there is not a false or artificial note in Parkes' performance."
“TimeLine's production has two very compelling reasons to recommend it. Brooks and Parkes — both of whom have appeared lately in supporting roles — deliver credible, expertly nuanced performances. ... TimeLine's “Walk” serves as a fine showcase for the talents of two of its most accomplished ensemble members.”
"Recommended ... it's not so much the actual details of the negotiations that matter as much as the desire for two human parties to connect and see a common ground. This philosophical dance is handled delicately and pointedly by TimeLine's production ..."
"It's a period piece. But director Nick Bowling has done a lot of ingenious things to keep the dust off, the most ingenious of them being to reimagine Botvinnik (originally a male character) as a woman and then to get Janet Ulrich Brooks to play her. ... [she] is just plain brilliant. ... [The play] still stands up as a portrait of two people trying to negotiate meaning under circumstances where it's in awfully short supply and getting scarcer by the minute."
"A Must-See Show ... What may sound like dry, uninspiring theatre couldn't be more exciting. Not only is Blessing's play extremely well-written, but Nick Bowling has directed his production like a taut international chess match. ... Both talented actors equally hold the audience in the palm of their hands leading us on a tensely political, yet very human walk through the woods."
TIME OUT CHICAGO
" ... with Blessing's blessing, [Nick] Bowling's production casts the Soviet negotiator as a woman; given Brooks's masterful performance, it's hard to imagine it any other way. ... Both performances are skillful and nuanced ..."
"This smartly written and deftly performed work is filled with humorous dialogue and deeply psychological character traits that engrosses us from the start by the intelligent and nuanced performances by the two top talents."
"Editor's Pick ... [A] shrewdly drawn thumbnail sketch of the human side of atomic brinksmanship. TimeLine Theatre ... continues its mission to deliver grist for intelligent conversation about our real world.”
MAKE IT BETTER
“Sound like a snooze fest? It isn’t. Nic Bowling’s astute direction keeps the show buoyant, while performers Janet Ulrich Brooks and David Parkes find the levels and humor that keep us rooting for their success.”
ON THE BLOGS
- Chicago Theatre Addict - “Parkes and Brooks have great chemistry together and generate sparks as they play out a well worn rule in negotiation: the person with the least investment holds the power ... Timeline’s production is fantastic. See it.”
- Chicago Theater Beat - "4 STARS ... Once again, the company does not disappoint. From the beautiful set design to the high-caliber performances, the company’s take on A Walk in the Woods is a strong start to the company’s 15th season. ... this is definitely a production not to be missed.”
- The Fourth Walsh - “Under the direction of Nick Bowling, both Janet Ulrich Brooks and David Parkes engage in amusing poker playing banter. Parkes endears as he unravels from superiority smugness to there-is-no-Santa reality. The bipartisan synergy fascinates as Brooks tries to communicate to Parkes without saying too much. It’s a clever depiction of national authorities without any real power.”