Best Actress to Call When You Don't Have Much of a Script

Janet Ulrich Brooks

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Critics' Picks

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Next Up gives directors and designers from the Northwestern University MFA program a chance to show what they can do. This year's edition is running three plays in repertory: Keith Reddin's Life and Limb, Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, and a new one by Emily Schwend called South of Settling. Schwend's script has its good points, but it's also way too amorphous—a collection of issues, characters, and conflicts waiting to be developed. Well, Janet Ulrich Brooks apparently decided not to wait. Pulled in to play Kate, a middle-aged high-school teacher with a lot on her emotional plate, the veteran Chicago-based actress went right ahead and supplied missing through lines and subtext. She can't turn the play around, but she sure makes Kate interesting. The performance is a great demonstration of her formidable craft.

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