City Lit Theatre Presents THIRTEEN DAYS Review — Electrifying!

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City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Cameron Feagin as John F. Kennedy in City Lit Theater's THIRTEEN DAYS.
City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS

(non) SPOILER ALERT—

NUCLEAR WAR IS AVERTED!!!

...for now...

We are long into this re-telling of the Cuban Missile Crisis when Cameron Feagin as JFK does what one can imagine as the Harvard-accented equivalent of Nikita Krushchev banging his shoe on the table when the Politburo undoes his command.

It’s a gentlemanly rage—but rage nonetheless.

City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Cameron Feagin as John F. Kennedy
City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right: Shawna Tucker, Julia Kessler, Cameron Feagin, and Delia Ford
City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right: Shawna Tucker, Cameron Feagin

JFK is in disbelief that his trusted cabinet had countermanded his order to contact Turkey about the NATO missiles on its territory. We learn, or re-learn, that this may have been the issue that so provoked the Russians into arming Cuba with nuclear warhead missiles able to destroy many a major US city. Or at least, if they had contacted Turkey, it might have helped lead to a bread crumb trail of an escape route.

We all had lost count by then, as no doubt everyone in that conference room had also, as to how many times the President and his advisors had gathered to make, unmake, remake plans and then do the same with the new plan b, c, d, etc. Tensions had been high ever since reconnaissance flights had uncovered photographic evidence of the arms buildup 90 miles away from the U.S. shore.

City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right: Noelle Klyce, Shawna Tucker, Delia Ford, Julia Kessler
City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right, faces visible: Kat Evans, Shawna Tucker, Sheila Willis; left to right, backs to camera: Andrea Conway-Diaz, Kim Fukawa

We are in that pressure cooker with them—almost the entire play happening around that conference room table, over the course of thirteen days. Sometimes there are photo blowups of the aerial photographs showing the missiles. Sometimes update messages come in noisily over the wires. Sleep is in short supply. It is not only war in the balance, but potentially unleashing a nuclear winter and the end of humankind.

Robert Kennedy, author of the book which this play is adapted from, is the story’s narrator. He is not only the Attorney General, but first and foremost the devoted and admiring younger brother who gets the crisis as we all do but also with a fraternal lens on the President as a man. He is also the one JFK tasks to be his emissary carrying the President’s most personal appeals to the only man on earth who was likely feeling the same over-the-top pressures—his adversary Krushchev.

When the others leave the room, Bobby stays with his brother. Their drinks are neat, except JFK’s are washing down pain pills for his back, something he only lets his brother see.

City Lit Makes the Cold War Painfully Real

For ninety minutes, even though we know how it all works out in the end, we sit and saturate the anxiety of the moment. All memory of how the crisis was averted in the real world is forgotten as writer and director Brian Pastor, City Lit’s Resident Director, locks us in the boiler room of highwire suspense of those thirteen days. It’s agonizing pain—we feel it.

City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Kat Evans as Robert Kennedy

For those too young or too unschooled about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War, there couldn’t be a better primer, in this writer’s view.

The cast is all female. They have mastered all accents, gestures and postures of the historic figures they inhabit. We stop noticing their gender almost in an instant. That’s so trivial, isn’t it, when humankind’s future is so hanging on a thread…

Most will likely agree with this writer, live theater doesn’t get much better than this.

City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right: Noelle Klyce, Delia Ford, Kat Evans, Andrea Conway-Diaz, Cameron Feagin, Maggie Cain
City Lit Theater THIRTEEN DAYS
Left to right: Shawna Tucker, Delia Ford, Andrea Conway-Diaz, Julia Kessler, Cameron Feagin, Sheila Willis, Maggie Cain

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WHEN:

Thru October 24, 2021

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Mondays October 11 and 18 at 7:30pm

WHERE:

City Lit Theatre
1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago 60660 (Inside Edgewater Presbyterian Church)

TICKETS:

$28 (Discounts for seniors, students and military)

For more information and tickets visit the City Lit website or call 773-293-3682

CAST:

President John F. Kennedy: Cameron Feagin
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy: Kat Evans
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara: Sheila Willis
Secretary of State Dean Rusk: Julia Kessler
Director of Central Intelligence John A. McCone and Soviet U.N. Ambassador Valerian Zorin:  Maggie Cain
McGeorge Bundy:  Andrea Conway-Diaz
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor: Delia Ford
Ted Sorensen: Noelle Klyce
Arthur C. Lundahl (the aerial photography expert who detected missile installations in Cuba) and Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Dobrynin: Kim Fukawa
National Security Council member Llewellyn “Tommy” Thompson, the diplomat who was key in defusing the crisis: Shawna Tucker
Adlai Stevenson, United States Ambassador to the United Nations: Anne Wrider

CREATIVE TEAM:

Liz Cooper (lighting design)
Jeremy Hollis (set designer)
Satoe Schechner (costume designer)
Hazel Marie Flowers-McCabe (production manager)
Drew Durfee (stage manager)

Note: Picture this Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

Images: Steve Graue

Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES BY AMY MUNICE.

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