Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

As It Is in Heaven

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Religious ecstasy figures prominently in the liturgy of the Shakers. But visions don't. So on an afternoon in 1838, when one female adherent claims to have seen angels, her peers respond at first with bemused skepticism. But as others begin to experience these ecstatic spells, the elders worry about their disruptive effect on the community. Playwright Arlene Hutton rejects the temptation to sensationalize the dynamic of cloistered women, choosing instead to highlight the tolerance and compassion practiced by this now nearly extinct sect. Under Brandon Ray's direction for New Leaf Theatre, the ensemble delivers uniformly intelligent and unaffected performances, authentic even down to the Shaker songs and dances, researched by dramaturges Marsha Harman and Deanna Boyd. Through 4/9: Thu-Sat 8 PM. Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 N. Lincoln Park West, 877-238-5596. $12-$15; industry nights Thu.

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