Lookingglass’ DEATH TAX Review – And We Thought Life Was Complicated!

Perhaps in the interest of complete disclosure, I should mention that I am 70 and my husband is 83.  I say this because you may have decided that this is surely a play for “Senior Citizens.” I say Death Tax has truth and wisdom for everyone, all ages.  It goes to the very core of the great question, the meaning and value of life.

The story begins commonly enough.  An elderly woman, brilliantly portrayed by Tony-Award Winner Deanna Dunagan, is in her hospital bed at a nursing home.  A feisty woman with a lot of money, she’s paying close attention to what’s going on “out in the world” where, she has just learned, estate tax laws are about to change. The implications of this change are not lost on her: she’s worth a lot more to her daughter if she dies now, rather than after the New Year. 


She’s sure her needy nurse, sympathetically interpreted by J. Nicole Brooks, and her desperate, resentful daughter, chillingly personified by Louise Lamson, are in cahoots to beat that “deadline.”  Thus begins a plot with enough twists and ­­surprises to be worthy of a thriller!

Of course, as soon as a lot of money becomes a factor, everybody wants to get in the act.  And they do—each in their unique and conniving way! Even the boss/manager/lover played deviously by Raymond Fox gets into the act, just to keep us sitting at the edge of our seats!

Everybody has everything at stake! Playwright Lucas Hnath makes sure you get that. And Director Heidi Stillman’s craft delivers the taut, compelling message. Theater this good is always exciting, even when the message is so weighty.

How did the Creative Team create the just-right look for Death Tax? By paring away all the extraneous details, and focusing relentlessly. It all comes down to life vs. Death.  Christine A. Binder’s glaring light on John Musial’s nearly naked stage underscores it brilliantly.

Whether you are old or young, I highly recommend this thoughtful, engaging and entertaining play.

Photos: Raymond Fox and Liz Lauren


If possible, I suggest you attend the Sunday matinees and stay for the REFLECT post-show discussions listed below:


Dates:  September 13 – October 12, 2014


Tuesdays:                    7:30 p.m. (Sept. 2 only)

Wednesdays:               7:30 p.m.

Thursdays:                  3:00 p.m. (Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and 9 only) 7:30 p.m.

 Fridays:                      7:30 p.m.

 Saturdays:                   3:00 p.m. (except Sept. 6); 7:30 p.m.

Sundays:                      3:00 p.m.; 7:30 p.m. (except Sept. 7 and 21, Oct. 5)



Performances: Touch tour/Audio described performance, October 5 at 3pm;

Open captioned performance,September 28 at 3pm. Partial support for open captioning provided by Theatre Development Fund.


REFLECT post-show panel discussions following selected 3:00 Sunday matinees:

Sunday, September 21: Matters of the Heart: The Caregiver Connects

Sunday, September 28: Forever Young: America’s Fear of Aging

Sunday, October 5: Grave Disagreements How We Define Death

Sunday, October 12: A Tale of Two Plays: Chicago Theatre and the Works of Lucas Hnath

For more information, visit - LookingGlassCommunity   


Location:          Lookingglass Theatre Company, located inside Chicago's historic

Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. at Pearson.  

Prices:             $40 - $65


A limited number of student tickets are available the day of the show for $20 with valid student ID.

Groups of 10 or more patrons save up to 20%. Call the box office for details.


Box Office:      Buy online at LookingGlassWebsite

or by phone at (312) 337-0665

The Lookingglass box office is located at Water Tower Water Works,

821 N. Michigan Ave.

Photos: Raymond Fox and Liz Lauren




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