Alias Grace

The Margaret Atwood story of ‘Alias Grace’ gets inside your head, Chris Jones: 2.5 stars

“A killer central performance from the richly nuanced Ashley Neal. … “Alias Grace” already looks like a hit.”



The Arts Section: Rivendell Theatre Brings Margaret Atwood’s ALIAS GRACE to Stage, Kelly Kleiman & Jonathan Abarbanel: 2 recommendations

“A terrific production and the exact right production for Rivendell Theatre ensemble….Karen Kessler has directed a striking and creepy and thought provoking and has an absolutely brilliant Grace Marks in Ashley Neal…I was riveted.” – Kelly Kleiman

“A wonderful portrayal of a wonderful character…Ashley Neal is at once powerful and subtle as Grace Marks.” – Jonathan Abarbanel




ALIAS GRACE Shines at Rivendell Theatre, Kate Scott

“Rivendell Theatre has created a stellar adaptation of Alias Grace, and it’s in no small part due to the efforts of playwright Jennifer Blackmer.”




Review: ALIAS GRACE at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Erin Shea Brady

“I’m consistently excited by the programming at Rivendell. Artistic Director Tara Mallen and team mine their mission for brave, relevant works that are deep in conversation with the world we live in. Their tagline – “It’s Women’s Work” – rings true in their tenacity, their nerve and their aptitude for telling nuanced stories that serve to humanize and explore polarizing feminist issues and tropes. Karen Kessler’s intense production of ALIAS GRACE is no exception.”



Rivendell Theatre Ensemble Presents ALIAS GRACE, Amy Munice: Highly Recommended

“…coming without the book in your mind’s eye may be a distinct advantage to get just how expert the direction (Director: Karen Kessler) and characters’ slides, akin to the glissando of a trombone, truly are.”




Margaret Atwood’s searing psychological thriller fit for the stage, Hedy Weiss: Highly Recommended

“Rivendell Theatre’s riveting world premiere … brilliantly adapted for the stage by Jennifer Blackmer — is reason to celebrate.”



Our current Margaret Atwood moment continues onstage with another tale of women’s disempowerment., Alex Huntsberger: 3 stars

“…there couldn’t be a better time for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble to be premiering a Margaret Atwood adaptation.”




A Review of Alias Grace at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Kevin Greene

“As Grace, Ashley Neal is a conduit for her character’s memories, her gaze deep, her myriad anxieties bubbling in the depths”




ALIAS GRACE Review, Justin Hayford

“Each actor in the story’s central triangle brings an eye for nuanced detail turning (characters) into compelling conundrums.”



Rivendell’s “Alias Grace” a Powerful Psychological Study, Karen Topham

“Kessler’s direction is exquisite. It takes a powerful and cohesive vision to get the kind of performances we see here.”




Review: “Alias Grace” (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), Sarah Bowden: DIE RATING: d10 — “Worth Going To”

“Neal is particularly fine switching between the present, beaten down Grace, and the Grace of her teenage years… She sets the audience off-balance as she tells her tale, always indicating there is more to the tale than what she reveals…”


ALIAS GRACE Review, Carol Moore: Recommended

“The production, characterized by strong acting, is very well done.”

The Firebirds Take the Field


‘Firebirds’ tells the real-life story of cheerleaders afflicted by mystery illness

“…the performances in Fisch’s supple staging are often deliciously on point. Gerachis finds the anguished center of doubt underneath Avery’s carefully constructed sarcasm.” – Kerry Reid


The Firebirds Take the Field

“Rivendell Theatre’s world-premiere production of Lynn Rosen’s play works both as a biting critique of how our society treats women and as an insightful rumination on the ways unfulfilled hopes and desires can haunt or even poison one’s life.”


Let It All Out: A Review of The Firebirds Take the Field at Rivendell Theatre EnsembleRecommended

” “The Firebirds Take the Field” encompasses what Rivendell does so well: challenge preconceived notions and let them fight back. ” – Kevin Greene




Bad Blood: The Firebirds Take the Field  – Rivendell Theatre: Enthusiastically Recommended

“Rosen has crafted a twisty script that relishes its surprises, and clearly juggles a complex tangle of relationships, slights, intrigues, and unspoken fears without muddling the issue or losing sight of the medical mystery set for us to solve. She is also graced with a fine tuned sense of humor and the laugh-lines grow ripe and fall readily, particularly when wielding Avery’s barbed wit.” – Ben Kemper


Rivendell Theatre Ensemble AND THE FIREBIRDS TAKE THE FIELD Review – Cheerleaders Ticking All Over the Place

“The beauty of this script by playwright Lynn Rosen is that we too are hooked and want to get to the bottom of it all as much as Avery. That it’s based on real-world events hooks us all the more.” – Alexis Bugajski


THEATER REVIEW Firebirds Take the Field

“An adroit cast led by Meighan Gerachis and Rebecca Spence …with a brief, but important, appearance by the always-commanding Margaret Kusterman.” – Mary Shen Barnidge



THEATER REVIEW The Firebirds Take the FieldRecommended

“This well-acted play is a combination of medical mystery, personal character sketch, and family dynamic study. The resolution is plausible, leaving room for thought.” – Tom Williams


REVIEW: The Firebirds Take the Field @ RivendellRecommended

“Rivendell has made a full-fledged fan of me after presenting yet another innovative, female-empowered production. ​”


“[a] Sincere and Empathetic Play…written with truth and poignancy and acted as such”  “Deeply Moving”

Chicago Tribune

“Under the sensitive, textured direction of Megan Carney and Mark Ulrich, with a remarkable performance by Barbara E. Robertson at its center, Rivendell’s premier of Julie Jensen’s Winter is a gripping and sympathetic treatment of the difficulties of aging gracefully, especially with dementia.”

Chicago Stage Standard

“A beautifully written story…Winter takes you on an emotional journey which gives you a glimpse into the life of a woman who’s determined to live her life on her own terms, I highly recommend this production!” 
Chicago Splash

Addressing our mortality and quality of life is profoundly personal. I don’t have an answer but am thankful for this production for igniting an inquiry.”


5 of the best actors in the Chicagoland area who help our rapt attention for 90 minutes. They took a difficult topic – dying with grace, under your terms – and added some humor, some humanity, and a lot of heart. “

-India Times

Robertson’s portrayal of a woman caught between the solid world of consciousness and the short, sporadic, periods of haunting lost time is quite remarkable.  Jensen’s character finds a perfect interpretation through the skill of Robertson’s ability to dance the fine line between these two spheres of existence.  The joy of living, the missing time, and acute awareness of non-lucidity is quite chilling when rendered to us by Robertson’s fine acting.”

– Irish American News


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