Press

We love our Chicago theater critic community and (quite a few of them) love us back. And like that “Sunscreen” song says, it’s always important to remember the compliments, not the insults, right? Here’s a few of our favorite clippings through the years.

Sweet Confinement (’11)

Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

Carini displays skillful plotting, parcelling out the reveals of the friends’ histories carefully and organically.

Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Theater Beat

…Pulling against the occasionally elegiac style of the valedictory dialogue are the actual activities that people undergo after a crisis or a crime. This essentially human urge to put things right brings decency and depth to this one-act amply reinforced by Hayes’ perfect casting, tonal control and committed cast.

Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

It’s a condensed, grotesque variation on Chekhov, and Carini’s astute orchestration of telling behaviors renders it pathetic, absurd, and harrowing. The restrained performances that director Brea Hayes gets from her stellar Sinnerman Ensemble cast make Amy’s ultimate breakdown—played with horrifying intensity by Cyd Blakewell—seem all the more volcanic. …Theater doesn’t get much better than this.

 

TOO MUCH MEMORY

John Beer, Time Out Chicago

Carini’s Antigone scowls with a moody authority, a rebel with the very particular cause of burying her brother.

Lisa Buscani, New City

Ah, the classics … Director Anna Bahow doesn’t have to work too hard to apply the text to contemporary scenarios. Societal conformity shackles us then as now. Keith Reddin and Meg Gibson’s script blends the contemporary and the classic seamlessly. Big themes never die.

Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Theater Beat

Giving voice to a previously silent character (Calliope Porter) as Creon’s much neglected wife registers her fury at being taken for granted until she’s forgotten altogether. Equally humanizing is the authors’ treatment of Jones (Ebony Wimbs), a soldier who finds more in common with Antigone than she ever expected.

DAYS OF LATE

Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

LuBell directs a fluid, stylish production that greatly benefits from Adam Smith’s stellar sound design and a wildly appealing, committed cast.

Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

SiNNERMAN Ensemble’s top-notch cast deliver compelling performances throughout.

Brian Kirst, Chicago Free Press

…a truly engaging, evocative evening of theatre. The juicy intertwining of its homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual [characters], and the pure, raw power of the mentally engaging cast are the primary attributes that initially sway, back and forth, in one’s brain. Days of Late is filled with satisfying and pluckily pertinent performances.

K.D Hopkins, Chicago Theatre Blog

… a remarkable ensemble… DAYS OF LATE is definitely a winner. It is funny, warm and potentially shocking in its frankness. SiNNERMAN Ensemble has produced a quirky and intense expose of life and love among the twenty to thirty-something generation.

IVANOV

Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

SiNNERMAN Ensemble teams up with veteran director Sheldon Patinkin and instantly joins the big league, turning Anton Chekhov’s stylistically tricky first play into a riveting exploration of the tragic and farcical flounderings of the human heart.  The inquisitive, passionate, disarmingly young cast are so in tune with Chekhov’s nuanced style they make Patinkin’s 2001 Steppenwolf production of Uncle Vanya look like a middle-school pageant.  These two-and-a-half hours are about all you need to understand why Chekhov, theatre and life matter.

Lisa Buscani, New City

Skilled performances… [SiNNERMAN Ensemble member Jeremy] Fisher captures Ivanov’s desolation; his pain is genuine and heartfelt. [SiNNERMAN Ensemble member Cyd] Blakewell’s Anna is heartbreaking. Thanks to Sheldon Patinkin’s astute direction, the ensemble handles Chekhov’s abrupt mood swings with aplomb.

Martin Jon, Gapers Block

Passionate performances… [SiNNERMAN Ensemble member] Sue Redman is exhilarating as Sasha…

BIBLE B-SIDES

Venus Zarris, Steadstyle Chicago

SiNNERMAN Ensemble is a profoundly gifted young company… one of the most talented and promising new theatre companies in Chicago.  The risks taken in BIBLE B-SIDES are refreshingly commendable.  The cast is dedicated and the sound design by Mikhail Fiksel adds depth by way of haunting incidental interludes.

J. Scott Hill, Chicago Stage Review

They get my admiration for attempting to put forward difficult subject matter with creative staging.  I pray that they continue to take such risks.  Many of the creative choices here are excellent … [SiNNERMAN Ensemble member] Sue Redman gives the best overall performance in this production, playing a loving daughter, a whore, and a number of others– with originality, grace and (when appropriate) humor.

SWEET CONFINEMENT (’08)

Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader

What makes this world premiere SiNNERMAN Ensemble production work . . . is Anna Carini’s acerbic-but-not-jaded dialogue, a cast of committed young actors, and some exquisitely tuned direction by Anna Bahow. It all adds up to a little show with a big heart that spills past the edge of Joe Schermoly’s realistic all-white set and dares us not to care about these people.

Kay Daly, Time Out Chicago

There are so many ways Sweet Confinement could go horribly wrong. Miraculously, Carini avoids the pitfalls inherent in her themes, producing instead a truthful, well-observed portrait of life in miniature… The playwright is well served by the newly formed SiNNERMAN Ensemble (here in its second production). Director Bahow opens with a visual grabber and doesn’t let go for the entire, taut 80 minutes. Bahow coaches modulated, unpretentious performances from her actors, all of whom negotiate the play’s sharp hairpin-turns from comedy to tragedy and back.

Venus Zarris, Gay Chicago Magazine

SiNNERMAN Ensemble formed after training together at the School at Steppenwolf, and they are a fledgling company that makes Chicago theater all the richer and does their mentors proud. With “Sweet Confinement” they have created bold and provocative, glaringly intimate and urgently powerful theater. This is a must-see production and a thrilling opportunity to see the unique event when aspiring talent finally arrives.

THE INCREDIBLY FAMOUS WILLY RIVERS

Tim Lowery, Time Out Chicago

It’s worth noting that this new ensemble’s name derives from a Nina Simone song. At intermission, when the song plays and Simone yelps, ‘But the lord said/Go to the devil,’ the cacophony is hypnotizing: a brooding mess of gray areas, hypocrisies, paranoia. As a template for future productions, that’s about as good as it gets. For a bright-eyed, sharp fringe collective, it’s even more impressive.