In theory, Prop Thtr’s world premiere of Neil Giuntoli’s play simply doesn’t add up. The idea of centering a play on the Hon. Richard J. Daley sends up warning flags—you might just as well pitch a TV show about municipal snow removal. Add to that a production by Stefan Brun that unfailingly leaps for the obvious, the ritual footage of momentous sixties events so stock it makes you want to privatize social security, and the mind-numbing double frame preceding the play’s real action: sit through the hushed testimonials to Daley’s character in the opening Mass, and you still have to put up with his deathbed meeting with a childhood friend. And in the end, just like Da Mare himself, the play gets away with jettisoning anything like conventional dramatic charisma. The key is Giuntoli’s uncanny and riveting performance in the title role. Even as he delivers a remarkably convincing imitation of the public man, he consistently finds ways to make the famously elusive mayor a fascinating and even sympathetic character. Daley was a superficially uncomplicated man who understood profoundly the power that came from seeming uncomplicated; Giuntoli brilliantly conveys the self-consciousness operating in Richard J. Daley’s relentless performance as Richard J. Daley. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.