Scenes From an Execution | Royal George Theatre Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Scenes From an Execution Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through March 29 2015

English writer Howard Barker's superb but too rarely seen 1984 play (originally written as a vehicle for Glenda Jackson) crackles in the Runcible Theatre's spare, intimate production at the Royal George Theatre's black-box gallery space. This engrossing, ironic study of art, sex, and politics concerns a female painter in 16th-century Italy who is commissioned to create an epic canvas celebrating the victory of the Venetian army—and, by extension, Christendom itself—over a Muslim enemy. Rather than glorifying Venice's military and moral superiority, the artist delivers a brutal depiction of the horrors of war—and faces severe consequences at the hands of the secular and religious authorities. The staging by director Andrew Root and movement director Micah Figueroa features a commanding, beautifully spoken lead performance by husky-voiced British actor Sarah Chalcroft, who mines Barker's barbed text for every nuance of her character's complexity. Strong support comes from a fine ensemble (including the wonderful Stephen Fedo as the Venetian doge, the painter's patron-turned-persecutor). Raquel Adorno's costumes imaginatively meld Renaissance and contemporary styles to underscore the timeless relevance of Barker's examination of the volatile relationship of the artist to her public. —Albert Williams

Price: $26

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