Judgement | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The little black-box auditorium in the Hull House at Belmont and Broadway has hosted some of Chicago's finest acting--by Mike Nussbaum, for example, in Hull House Theater's 1960s heyday, and the Steppenwolf ensemble of 15 years ago. Add to that group Larry Neumann Jr. in this one-man play, produced earlier this summer in Cafe Voltaire's basement and now transferred to reach a wider audience. Not that Judgement is exactly a crowd pleaser--it's a dark, disturbing portrait (inspired by fact) of a Soviet soldier who survived imprisonment during World War II by resorting to cannibalism. British playwright Barry Collins's script places the audience in the role of judge as Neumann's Captain Vukhov makes his case--refusing to apologize or grovel, instead trying to control his fate through pure rationality as he did during his ordeal, explaining the psychological and physical changes he and his comrades underwent as they wrestled with issues of survival and sacrifice. Neumann's brilliantly shaded storytelling, deepened over time and aided by the move to this less-claustrophobic space, creates a riveting, suspenseful evening of theater. Famous Door Theatre Company, Jane Addams Center Hull House, 3212 N. Broadway, 404-8283. Through September 2: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $8.

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