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Theater Shows

Blood and sugar.

centerstage reviewed this performanceReviewed by Centerstage!Go Chicago!

the side project
1439 W. Jarvis Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626 Map This Place!Map it
Tickets: or (773) 973-2150


Related Info:
Official website

Runs January 5, 2013-February 10, 2013

Saturday4 p.m.
Sunday7:30 p.m.
Monday7:30 p.m.
Tuesday7:30 p.m.
Wednesday7:30 p.m.

reviewed performanceCenterstage Show Review
Reviewer: Alex Huntsberger
Tuesday Jan 08, 2013

In his new play “Sugarward” Sean Graney takes the sweet stuff to task as a catch-all emblem for the ruthlessness and depravity of our modern, capitalized society. Set in the British Leeward islands circa 1706, “Sugarward” follows the (true) story of Governor Daniel Parke (John Henry Roberts). A callow, ambitious appointee, Parke quickly sets about “reforming” the local economy, setting him in opposition to the all-powerful sugar barons. A quick browse of Parke’s Wikipedia page will clue you into how well that endeavor ended up going for him, but needless to say things did not end well. Despite its expansive themes and exotic setting, the play itself is only a two-hander. In classic Haney fashion, the second actor, Joel Ewing, pulls triple duty. He plays Parke’s trusty manservant Thomas Kirby, as well as the head sugar merchant honcho Edward Chester and the caps things off as the mad son of the former Governor. Ewing does a smashing job pirouetting from part to part and brings a winning buffoonery to his performances that glances nicely off Robert’s cold, lizard-brain scheming. The play’s second half is stronger than its first, which often gets bogged down the sheer “Britishness” of Graney’s characters. Once Ewing enters as Chester and Parke has finally presented with a worthy opponent, the script’s pulse quickens and the show is off. But some judicious trimming would be nice. Director Geoff Button keeps things on their toes, though seems like he has a hard time varying the staging. What with only two actors and the Side Project’s dime-sized playing space to work with, a few climactic confrontations end up fizzling slightly. However, the play really does come together in the final moments, as the price of sugar and the price of blood become one and the same. There are no heroes in “Sugarward,” only winners.

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