Vitalist Theatre’s Critical Praise

“Vitalist Theatre is invariably smart, original and bold.” - Chicago Sun Times

pool (no water) (Midwest Premiere)

  • "A fever dream of a play--frenetic and frightening! Absolutely worth seeing--from the great beauty of it to the athleticism of the actors. Wonderful and exciting physical theatre." - WBEZ Dueling Critics
  • "Vivid! Liz Carlin Metz, always driven by the physicality of a playwright's words, directs." - Chicago Sun-Times
  • "The physicalizations effectively capture the freedom and ecstasy of Mark Ravenhill's free-form script" - TimeOut Chicago
  • "What is modern life if not an exercise in documenting everything? This uneasy mix of emotions is something Chicago actors can understand with great intimacy, and pool (no water) is precisely the kind of show they can sink teeth into with real conviction." - Chicago Tribune
  • One of Chicago's most physical ensembles acts up a storm--Director Liz Carlin Metz has her cast in balls-out mode for the show's entire 82 minutes. A successful production of a lauded contemporary playwright by an important off-Loop company." - Chicago Stage Style
  • "Stunning and beautiful play—a deeply probing psychological study of art and artists and the meaning of life." - Don Evans, Director, Writers Hall of Fame
  • "Intense—different from anything I've ever seen. I loved it!" - Michael O'Mary, Editor, Dream of Things Press
  • "I've never seen anything like it! Great play, great energy, such intensity! Vitalist, you did it again!" - Anne Veague, Director, Waterline Writers

The Ghost is Here (USA Premiere)

  • "A vivid hued panorama; an athletic ensemble; dazzling décor—whoever thought the funeral industry could be so much fun?" - Windy City Times
  • "Thought provoking and entertaining. A brilliant performance by [Jamie] Vann. Recommended." -
  • "Jaclynn Jutting directs this piece with fluidity and style."-
  • "Engaging—strong Brechtian influence." - 3 Stars Time Out
  • "Sanchez is a powerful ghost whisperer. Let go of cultural differences and get lost in this translation." - The Walsh Review

Calderón de la Barca's Life is a Dream in a New Translation by Helen Edmundson (USA Premiere)

  • "Vigorous." - Cited in Windy City Times Season Highlights 2011: Mary Shen Barnidge
  • "The perfect platform for Elizabeth Carlin Metz's passionate and persuasive revival, a show to justify Vitalist Theatre's well deserved name. 3 Stars." -
  • "Grand, almost operatic. Vitalist Theatre has mounted an artful, eloquent production. Highly Recommended." -
  • "Stately…remarkable brilliance. Recommended." - 3 Stars Time Out
  • "Poignant. Under the direction of Liz Carlin Metz movement enthralls. A fascinating contemplation of self-discovery. Recommended." -
  • "A remarkable production. 3 ½ stars." -

The Night Season (Chicago Premiere)

  • JEFF RECOMMENDED: Jeff Awards Committee/Chicago League of Theatres
  • "An engaging, authoritative, and richly evocative evening of theatre. Refreshingly new and surprisingly smart. Rebecca Lenkiewicz is a talented playwright with a knack for characterization and a fine ear for language. The Night Season is a delight! Highly Recommended." -
  • "Divinely directed. Cleverly designed." - Steadstyle Chicago: Theatre Review Network
  • "Outstanding performances by the Vitalist Theatre cast and exceptional use of the stage. Every character is richly developed, with enduring performances by Mary O’Dowd and Don Bender. A truly great Irish love story. Enchanting. Highly Recommended. FOUR STARS" -
  • "The sensuality and fierceness of The Night Season are well matched to the aesthetic of Vitalist Theatre." - Chicago Sun-Times

Anung's First American Christmas (World Premiere)

  • "A marvel. Quick witted and visually stunning. Brilliantly crafted in every way." - ShotXShot, Chicago
  • "I don’t know when I have seen a more talented cast. Exceptional." - Trish Barr, Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
  • "Spectacular! That a mere eight actors could create an entire world of native peoples and beliefs, wild creatures, nature, and overall spirituality is a truly marvelous achievement." - G.B. Starr-Bresette, Bad River (WI) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • "Top Ten Holiday Best Bets" — Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune; Chicago Sun-Times; Time Out Chicago; Crane's Chicago Business

A Passage to India

  • "Lavishly rendered: The endlessly imaginative interplay between Carlin-Metz's strongly physical directing, Craig Choma's scenic design, and a crop of sturdy performances combine to make this a passage worth taking." - Time Out Chicago
  • "A lucid adaptation of Forster's great novel…explored with truth, intelligence, and heart." - Chicago Tribune
  • "Carlin-Metz specializes in mounting epic theatre. Her King Lear, Anna Karenina and last year's hit, Mother Courage, have placed her in an elite category of directors. A Passage to India, may be her best directorial achievement to date: This lady knows how to tell a large scale story in a stunning theatrical manner." Highly Recommended -
  • "Highly recommended…the most beautiful, imaginative, ambitious production. Elizabeth Carlin-Metz just pulls these things out of some magic box. Wonderfully done!" - "Chicago Tonight," Channel 11, WTTW
  • "Recent Vitalist productions have included memorable versions of Mother Courage and Anna Karenina. Now add to that list the sensational Midwest premiere of A Passage to India. Even fans of David Lean's extraordinary film version will not be disappointed. This production is a true 'jewel in the crown'." - Chicago Sun-Times
  • "A gorgeous and creatively staged Midwest premiere….The 14-member cast is constantly in motion to inventively depict everything from overcrowded trains to a stomping elephant. Framed in Craig Choma's regal arches and featuring lovely costumes by Rachel Sypniewski, this Passage is a sight to behold." - The Daily Herald

Mother Courage

  • "Muscular and mesmerizing…utterly captivating." - Chicago Tribune
  • "Riveting…relentless. Seldom have eight actors created a world so full." - Chicago Reader
  • "Altogether terrific…a splendid piece of work…Lori Myers is sensational." Highly recommended. - Chicago Sun-Times
  • "One of the most engrossing, best articulated shows of the year." - Daily Herald
  • Year End Best of the Season picks: Hedy Weiss, Larry Bommer, Venus Zarris, Barbara Vitello, Chris Jones/Kerry Reid, Mary Shen Barnidge. 3 After Dark Awards.

Anna Karenina

  • "A play this good should be written across the sky—the greatest production of Anna Karenina I have ever seen." - Yevgeny Yevtushenko, poet and statesman
  • "…deftly structured…intensely acted…the right sense of dignity and repressed passion." - Chicago Tribune
  • "A serious, thoughtful work, penetrating in its interpretation of all the complexities of Tolstoy's conception." - Reklama, Russian Newspaper of Chicago

King Lear

  • "Then there are the shows that seem re-felt from start to finish, offered up as if there was no precedent for their discoveries. Such revelations are even more wonderful when the source is as deceptively familiar as King Lear, happily not so familiar when the Vitalist Theatre reinvent[s] the ultimate dysfunctional clan." - Performink
  • Year End Best of Season picks — Larry Bommer, Michael Phillips

The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol

  • "Inventive … a beautifully wrought tale. For Metz's directorial acumen alone, I hope the Vitalists find a well-deserved niche in this city's artistic life." - Chicago Tribune, (Top Twenty Chicago Plays, 2003)
  • "Vitalist Theatre has created a work of great loveliness, power, and depth … as touching and evocative as a Van Gogh painting." - Chicago Sun-Times

Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man

  • "The best production of any of my plays I have ever seen anywhere." - Eve Ensler, Obie Award Winning author of The Vagina Monologues
  • "Galvanizing…visceral emotional force." - Chicago Sun-Times

The Mill on the Floss

  • "Wildly impassioned and imaginative…an ambitious and grand production" - Chicago Tribune
  • "Vitalist Theatre's [Mill] is enlivened by dead-on, impassioned performances, so clear in their depths and shallows you can sense the consummate theatricality… It's an exciting match, Elizabeth Carlin Metz's kinetic staging and Helen Edmundson's vibrant adaptation…" - Chicago Reader, Top Ten Plays
  • "Tremendous artistry and vision. A thrilling, emotionally churning production. Highly recommended." - Chicago Sun-Times
  • Year End Best of Season picks: Chris Jones, Larry Bommer, Rich Christensen.

Vitalist Theatre Second Wave: Emerging Artists Series Inaugurated 2008

  • The Bay at Nice: "Scary conviction from Jaclynn Jutting's staging and Ariel Brenner as a tough living and tough loving mother." - The Chicago Reader
  • The Bay at Nice: "A great choice for this tenacious company entering its 10th year." - New City

Past Productions Press Links

pool (no water) (Midwest Premiere)

The Ghost Is Here (USA Premiere)

Life Is a Dream

Jeff Awards Nominations
Vanessa Greenway (Rosaura/Astrea) has been nominated for a non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Life is a Dream with Premiere Theatre and Vitalist Theatre. Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune.

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