Kondrat earns kudos in Chicago production of IRT’s ‘Gospel’

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Back in March, the Indiana Repertory Theatre offered the world premiere of Charles Smith's "The Gospel According to James." (My review can be found here.)

This week, the show—with the cast intact—opened at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre.

How did it hold up to the big-city critics?

The reaction was mixed, although local favorite Diane Kondrat was singled out by both of the second city's lead critics.

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "Smith … overreaches when it comes to imparting broader meanings — the last few minutes are filled with excessive talk of the weight and symbols of different stories, when the actual events that Smith recounts in gripping fashion have actually already made that point dramatically, as it should be made. We're able to make the leap without being told. Especially since Chuck Smith's intense production features some blistering acting in the inner play, especially from Diane Kondrat and Christopher Jon Martin, who play a working-class white couple whose lives collapse as hate and fear ascend and whose motivations and actions are consistently surprising." See Jones' full review here.

Hedy Weiss at the Chicago Sun-Times wasn't as captivated, saying "Smith has laid out so many different 'plausible' versions of the events leading up to this brutal incident that you begin to wish you had a team of investigators to devise a flow chart. The Rashomon effect is simply overemployed, and it becomes more exhausting than emotionally riveting." She did, however, also praise Kondrat for "an excellent portrait of an emotionally battered wife."

The show runs at Victory Gardens through June 12. Details here.

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