Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND Review – Touching The Key on The Kite

Jackalope Theatre Makes Its Own Way

Have you ever wanted your own country or even a little island of escape?-a place, even imaginary, where we make up all the rules and we can do whatever we like all day?

For a man like Benjamin Franklin, one of his life-long ambitions was to create Franklinland up in Nova Scotia. Always a dreamer with eyes toward the heavens and feet off the ground, he dreamed of creating, testing, and inventing things to make something of his life.

He was a great scientist, writer, and, if our fifth grade history classes have taught us anything, he had one of the best political minds as a founding father.

Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND
Tom Hickey as Ben

But what happens when you live in his shadow?

For Ben’s son, William, being a bastard is not the only challenge he has to endure. He has to make his famous father proud of him. We join him on his journey in FRANKLINLAND going from sharing his father’s dream to finding a way all his own.

Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND
Kai Ealy as William

Shifting Power Dynamics

Demonstrated to us by slanted stage, FRANKLINLAND is all about power dynamics.

Who has the higher ground?

Who is in control of this situation?

As we travel from the years 1752 to the American Revolution and beyond we get glimpses into the Franklin’s tepid family relationship.

In the beginning, Ben reigns at the top surrounded by antiques, books, scientific instruments, and inventions all around the stage (Ben Franklin fans and historians alike will enjoy all these period references).

Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND
Kai Ealy and Tom Hickey as William and Ben

But somewhere along the way, something for William changes. He can’t live in his life trying to please his father because he’ll never meet his father’s expectations. Here lies the heated moments where we see our actors bare all their emotions.

Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND
Kai Ealy and Tom Hickey as William and Ben

Pompousness and Ambition to the Highest Degree

Apparently humility was not one of Benjamin Franklin’s strong suits. Our actor playing Benjamin Franklin, Tom Hickey, plays up every ounce of Franklin’s huge ego written in the script. His “Because I’m Benjamin Franklin” lines makes us believe that he himself believes he’s the greatest thing in the entire world. He doesn’t just believe he’s brilliant as a matter of opinion, it’s an undeniable fact!

It’s no wonder William, played by Kai Ealy, eventually has enough and goes his own way. When he decides to unearth himself from his father’s shadow, we see his true feelings. He’s felt like a burden his whole life and suddenly he’s filled with rage and hatred - no longer the starry eyed young man anymore.

But it’s not all drama, drama, drama. FRANKLINLAND is full of snappy dialogue along with these monologues packed with heart. Our actors keep a fast pace moving from scene to scene moving from year to year with well-time comedic bits, dick jokes and all.

FRANKLINLAND is a good mix of history blended with the voice of now. It’s about making your own way and being the best person you can be. It’s a good show for history buffs and those looking for some heated family drama.


Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.


Now through February 24
Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm
Matinee - February 18th
Additional Monday performances:
February 5th and February 12th at 8pm


Broadway Armory Park
5917 N Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60660


Tickets can be purchased online at the Jackalope Theatre website


Courtesy of Jackalope Theatre


Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

Jackalope Theatre FRANKLINLAND
The cast of Franklinland
Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

About the Author

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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