Press

For Agreed Upon Fictions

“Under 16th Street Theater’s season, “How to Be Good” [this] well-paced, compelling premiere production is tightly directed by Megan Shuchman. A top-notch cast brings up lots of emotions in this never-predictable, absorbing drama set in contemporary suburban Chicago. Agreed Upon Fictions is edgy and well-played, making you question,’Where would I stand if I were thrown into this conflict?’”

— Oak Park Journal

“Playwright Shayne Kennedy says she drew on an experience in her own life for the play, a tight, tension-driven piece that runs just under 90 minutes. The cast here fleshes out her anxious family dynamics, giving us reactive characters and ever-mounting suspense. The finale stuns… Director Megan Shuchman drives forward with a matter-of-factness that makes the scene’s gravitas all the more powerful. The last moments leave us with no monster to hunt, just a man in pain and a woman exhausted from walking a very thin line. RECOMMENDED; FEATURED READER PICK”

— Chicago Reader

For Miss Marx or the involuntary side effect of living

“We are in England — not long after Marx’s wife has died and the man himself is gravely ill, that we enter Philip Dawkins’ play, “Miss Marx: or The Involuntary Side Effect of Living,” now in director Megan Shuchman’s ideally cast world premiere production at Strawdog Theatre. A brainy, witty, passionate and ingenious mash-up of love and death, as well as of revolutionary ideas and sexual politics, Dawkins’ drama homes in on the life of Marx’s brilliant, emotionally torn youngest daughter, Eleanor, who is portrayed to galvanic effect by Dana Black, an actress of great physical and vocal presence who boldly wrestles with many big emotional moments, but also finesses the more intimate ones. RECOMMENDED”

— Chicago Sun-Times

A story like this would seem to make for quite the dirge, but Dawkins’s writing and Shuchman’s direction skillfully keep things balanced. Where most would go for grit or melodrama, Dawkins creates an enchantingly elevated world with a heart-tugging nostalgic sheen, punctuated by a streak of Marx Brothers humor. FOUR STARS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED”

— TimeOut Chicago

Under the skillful direction of Megan Shuchman, the socialist platform is anything but politics as usual. The play has both dramatic and provocative elements… despite all the funny moments, Shuchman ensures the play stays anchored in the dark waters of self actualization. The show is never reduced to a romantic comedy. Throughout the show, Shuchman overlaps scenes for a clashing of worlds. We see a statuesque Black contemplating her life purpose… Miss Marx is a fantastic history lesson… and an extraordinary tribute to a woman’s descent into truth. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED”

— The Fourth Walsh

For Love Thy Neighbor… Till It Hurts

“Ganey’s piece, directed by Megan Shuchman (with deft accompaniment by percussionist Dan McNeil), is a bristling, thoughtful, heartfelt response to a National Public Radio piece by Ira Glass about real estate and the recession — Ganey, with her girl-next-door appeal, winningly chronicles her various ‘Kumbaya’-like efforts to come to terms with neighbors who see her middle-class presence as both irritant and threat.”

— Chicago Sun-Times

For Dead Pile

“This show avoids all the traps of the polemic, treating this difficult subject with considerable nuance and complexity… The director, Megan Shuchman moves the action swiftly and honestly, and the designer has forged quite a powerful design, made up of debris and tangled metal as a stand in for the mangled beasts whose carcasses litter this troubled and troubling farm.”

— Chicago Tribune

“Moral ambiguity is one of the great strengths in Jacqmin’s script … [That] and Shuchman’s staging allow moments of unforced honesty to sprout up organically. … The characters are allowed flashes of human grace and frailty. … Jacqmin pulls hope for humane practices — towards animals and people alike — from the dead pile of factory farming.”

— Chicago Reader

“A Centerstage Must See show! “[A] keenly observed issue play. … Nuanced acting and writing make it less of a polemic than an exploration of characters in conflict over something many of us would rather ignore. …A thoughtful and compelling work of drama.

— Centerstage Chicago

For Dental Society Midwinter Meeting

“Jacqmin’s passionate morality play in the guise of a super-smart comedy of manners is bound to hit a nerve with professionals and patients alike. And you don’t have to be an endodontist or dental hygienist . . . to appreciate its keen observations, bittersweet charms, and the work of its crackerjack cast of six under Megan Shuchman’s bristling direction. …The exceptionally well-cast actors…are superb. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.”

— Chicago Sun-Times

“Contains a great deal of sharp satirical writing, aimed squarely at a profession we all love to hate. . . . It’s a very funny and smart portrait of moral earnestness and, yes, vulnerability. . . . Creates a fabulous comic world . . . The production, directed by Megan Shuchman, is certainly amusing, slick and creative.”

— Chicago Tribune

“A deceptively light-on-its-feet satire. … The exceedingly clever script by Jacqmin pokes loving fun at its dentist characters without condescending to them. Words can’t express briefly the merits of the six-member ensemble cast.”

— Newcity Stage

“Resembling a slick, sophisticated and smart extended Second City sketch, Laura Jacqmin’s new one-act comedy, with the bizarre, but aptly descriptive title, is fresh, insightful, very funny and sharply produced. . . . Here is an entertaining new play that is modest in scope, offering a captivating premise, challenging themes, memorable characters and intelligent dialogue and supported by slick, stylish direction. Director Megan Shuchman has assembled a talented ensemble of six actors whose engaging and sharp delivery hit all the right notes in this world premiere. . . . Don’t wait to schedule your six-month appointment with this group of daffy dentists. In addition to some oral hygiene pointers, you may learn a few lessons about the quirkiness of the human condition.”

— Centerstage

“Helped by an outstanding, pliant cast, Laura Jacqmin’s thoroughly clever and exciting new play set at a dentists’ convention finds remarkable moments of real humanity. . . . This convention is also a convention-breaker. In Shuchman’s creative staging, the new piece touches on group dynamics, professional ethics, upper-middle-class anxiety, the human desire for connection and, I suspect, the disappointments of the Obama administration. If it sounds as though I’m projecting too much onto Jacqmin’s play, you haven’t seen how clever and nuanced her chosen metaphor proves. . . . Shuchman’s pliant, outstanding cast of six seamlessly switches among mostly anonymous characters. . . The ability of this skilled young playwright and remarkable actors to find moments of humanity in a seemingly sterile environment will give you plenty to chew on. FOUR STARS.”

— TimeOut Chicago

“Every second counts in [this] crisp comedy . . . Jacqmin and director Shuchman deliver an inventive, offbeat study of human nature. . . . [Jacqmin’s] deftly structured dialogue provokes laughter not only with funny, oddball ideas but with a sly use of rhythm. . . . An intelligent cast puts the material across with understated finesse.”

— Chicago Reader

“Succeeds on every level. Cleverly directed by Megan Shuchman, and boast[ing] a cast of six funny and charming actors . . . Both real and ridiculous, in equally delightful measures. . . . Surprisingly complex and bittersweet. . . . I really don’t want to ruin it with too much gushing . . . this show actually rises above our expectations, as a delightfully original experience.”

— TalkinBroadway.com

For Pluto Was a Planet

“90 minutes of snide, jittery enjoyment. A pull-no-punches indictment of the increasingly dissolute lives of college students. … Director Megan Shuchman expertly transfers audience focus from one tense tableau to the other. … Helped along by a tight, witty script, the actors each inhabit their roles with confident poise. … If you like watching pretty people tear into each other, you’ll want to catch ‘Pluto.'”

— Centerstage Chicago

“Tightly wound! … Jacqmin uses this tense setup to explore uncomfortable truths about the ways race and class play out in top-tier schools. … [Her characters are] multifaceted, sympathetic young adults embodied by a dead-on cast. ****”

— Time Out Chicago

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