Chicago Theatre Review
‘Men Should Weep’ Kitchen Sink Drama of Highest Order
Men Should Weep – Griffin Theatre
There comes a moment in the second act of “Men Should Weep,” the excellent new production from Griffin Theatre Company currently staged at Raven Theatre, when Maggie Morrison, the matriarch of a large Scottish family living in horrid conditions in a 1940s Glasgow tenement building, finally snaps. There’s no food for the children; her son just ruined his new pair of shoes; her husband, long out of work, seems incapable of finding a job. At that moment, not only is Scottish poverty brought to full light, but so is the desperation and dire circumstances that so many working families here in America face each and every day. It is, in short, the reason we go to the theater – to edify, to intensify our relationship with the world.
Masterfully directed by Robin Witt (there’s not a single Scottish accent that rings false in the production) and staged by Courtney O’Neill, “Men Should Weep” picks up right where Griffin’s excellent production of “Golden Boy” left off, though it arguably improves upon that already sterling production. The cast is uniformly excellent: Lori Myers as the aforementioned Morrison, who inspires such weariness and longing in her portrayal of the ever-giving, ever-active mother; Amanda Powell, who brings the same kind of ferocity and charisma that she did “Happy” at Redtwist earlier this year; Scot West, who captures so well the hopelessness that corrupts the man who can’t find work to support his family; and Roxanne Saylor, Ashley Neal, and Christina Gorman, who completely embody the busy-bee neighbors loitering around the Morrison family’s kitchen.
And above all, there is the vitality of the play itself, which playwright Ena Lamont Stewart wrote in direct protest of the frivolous, entitled rubbish that constituted theater in Depression-era Scotland; indeed, such was the play’s realism (and such was its indictment of men’s failings and unfortunate habits) that it scantly found a stage after its premiere, and has not even been produced in America since 1983.
Given its increasing relevance and honesty, though, here’s hoping that Griffin’s “Men Should Weep” inspires more revivals of its ilk; it’s the reason we go to the theater.
Reviewed by Peter Ricci
Presented July 5 – August 10 by Raven Theatre Company, 6157 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60660
Tickets are available by calling 773-338-2177 or by visiting www.raventheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.