Chicago Theater Review: YANKEE TAVERN (American Blues Theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center)

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by Barnaby Hughes on February 27, 2015

in Theater-Chicago


Of all the plays inspired by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Yankee Tavern has got to be one of the worst. Steven Dietz’s play, which takes place in New York City five years after the attacks, thrives on conspiracy theories. While the first half is more or less a rambling monologue with some clever jokes, the second half veers unsuccessfully into the thriller genre. It might work in more capable hands, but this American Blues Theater production directed by Joanie Schultz shows no such dexterity.


Yankee Tavern seems hampered above all by poor acting. As Ray, the verbose conspiracy theorist, Richard Cotovsky simply can’t remember all of his lines—and there are many. It becomes extremely distracting in the first half to the point that one welcomes his relative absence from most of the play’s second half. Steve Key’s Palmer, a shady spy character, utterly lacks the grit and menace his part calls for. Without this, there is nothing thrilling about Yankee Tavern.


Even the couple that the play revolves around are not convincing. As Adam, the owner of the titular bar, Ian Paul Custer way overdoes his brief bursts of anger; they’re almost farcical. Darci Nalepa as Adam’s fiancée Janet plays her character fairly well, despite the lack of support from the others. Apart from a few laughs at the beginning, the only thing this production has to recommend itself is Christopher Neville’s props and Grant Sabin’s finely-constructed set, especially the painted floor tiles.

yankee2photos by Johnny Knight

Yankee Tavern
American Blues Theater
Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln
Thurs-Sat at 7:30; Sun at 2:30
ends on March 22, 2015
for tickets, call 773.404.7336
or visit

for info on Chicago Theater,

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