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BWW Review: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT at Shattered Globe Theatre

BWW Review: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT at Shattered Globe TheatreIn true Dostoyevsky fashion, Shattered Globe Theatre's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT examines human depravity and the desperation that can drive people to appalling extremes. And the view is as bleak as a Siberian winter: under the direction of Louis Contey, the ensemble cast fills the intimate space at Theater Wit with a tension that rarely relents over the course of nearly three hours.

Adapting this novel for the stage is no easy task, given how much of the action takes place inside a murderer's head. To externalize the mental struggles of Raskolnikov (Drew Schad), playwright Chris Hannan doubles his voice and movements with those of other actors-singly and as an ensemble-to serve as both conscience and devil's advocate. Their echoing voices and frenzied pacing evoke a sense of claustrophobia, as if the audience is trapped with Raskolnikov in his tiny room.

Schad gives an intense performance that captures the radical idealism and tormented guilt of the central character. With plenty of hardship to go around, this adaptation also focuses on the women in Raskolnikov's life and the battles they must fight with the world. His sister, Dunya (Christina Gorman), must choose between a toxic marriage and a life of poverty. Sonya (Ilse Zacharias), a beautiful young neighbor with a drunkard father, turns to prostitution to provide for herself and her mother.

Though nearly every character is touched by the degradation of poverty, the heart of this story is found in their drastically different approaches to life's struggles. Sonya's compassion and devotion to her religious beliefs stand as foil to Raskolnikov's anger and cynicism. Ultimately, she brings about the play's few redemptive moments, which are needed after an exhausting journey through the mind of a murderer.

Shattered Globe Theatre's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT plays through October 20 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657. Tickets are available at 773-975-8150 or theaterwit.org.

Photo credit: Michael Brosilow

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