REVIEWS of IRON at Apple Tree Theatre

Copley News Service review by Dan Zeff
"Iron" at the Apple Tree Theatre is everything adult spectators could want in a play. It's beautifully acted, sensitively directed, honestly written, and builds to a wrenching but inevitable climax. There isn't a wrong note in the drama as it gradually but relentlessly draws its audience into a psychologically gripping mother-daughter relationship set within the claustrophobic world of prison life.
Part of the credit goes to the author's script and part to the flawless production at the Apple Tree, which fits perfectly into the theater's intimate new theater performing space. Kurt Johns directs with a sure but unseen hand, each scene unfolding naturally and credibly. Johns steers his ensemble through the script to ensure that the play never descends into talkiness, or worse, melodrama.
The show gets a rating of 4 stars.

Daily Herald review by Barbara Vitello
The play, which opened this week at Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park, centers on Fay (2006 Jeff Award winner Kirsten Fitzgerald whose raw, powerful performance should earn her another nomination), who's serving life in a Scottish prison for the murder of her husband. After 15 years, Fay's estranged daughter Josie (the exquisitely vulnerable Lindsay Gould), a lonely, rootless 25-year-old seeking to ground herself, arrives at the prison.
It's a well-directed (by Kurt Johns), superbly acted production with a standout turn by Fitzgerald. By turns loving and manipulative, cruel and paranoid, frightened and desperate, Fitzgerald's Fay exists on the edge of madness. It's a remarkable thing to see.
3 stars

Chicago Tribune review by Chris Jones
"Iron," a widely admired British drama that played the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2003 to great critical acclaim, gets a belated Chicago-area premiere at the Apple Tree Theatre under the taut direction of Kurt Johns (who used to work at MTC). It is a superb script. If you've ever had the experience of meeting a long-absent parent, or been close to someone going through such a thing, you'll recognize its essential veracity. People are messy. Time lost is irrecoverable, even with the best intentions. Relationships forged in such circumstances can be valuable, but they never are easy.
John's well-cast... show features the rising young actress Lindsay Gould (recently Ophelia at Chicago Shakespeare Theater) in the role of Josie. Emotional and empathetic, Gould offers further evidence that she has quite the career ahead. ...Fitzgerald is typically honest, decent and struggling as Fay. Munro also writes in two prison guards who do a lot more than guard. And both Steve Misetic and Anita Deely are splendidly complex. The players...have a moving show, replete with rich truths about the vexing disconnections of life.

Highlights from the review by Tom Williams

Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park is offering one of the finest plays of the year. Rona Munro's script is an unsentimental work that unfolds as a psychological drama full of subtle, tense and harrowing drama.

Set in a Scottish women's prison, Iron tells the story of a “lifer” Fay (Kristen Fitzgerald in a most riveting and nuanced performance) is in prison for murdering her husband 15 years ago. Her daughter, Josie (the charming Lindsay Gould) after a 15 year absence, decides to visit her mother to find out about her father with whom is has no memories and to reestablish a relationship with her mother.

This play, written in 2003, is a tense character sketch that unfolds as gradual emotional journey that has clever twists and a plausible conclusion. The two prison guards, George (Steve Misteic) and Sheila (Anita Deely) add depth to the show as they are not the stereotyped prison guards.

This well written play is a fresh take on the clichéd daughter meets estranged mother structure. We wonder why Jay killed her husband; she had never told anyone her motive. The dramatic tension is weaved as Josie and Fay interact during the prison visits. This splendid play has a most satisfying structure. It'll grab you and hold you tight until the end. This is a tremendous, marvelously acted beautifully paced show. Director Kurt Johns has a mounted a gem. Don't miss this powerful play.

Highly recommended

Highlights from the Chicago Sun-Times review by Hedy Weiss

Much has been written in recent years about the devastating impact on children of a parent's incarceration. In Rona Munro's play "Iron," now in an exceptionally well-acted production at Highland Park's Apple Tree Theatre, the Scottish dramatist explores the long-term effects on both parent and child. The play offers impressive insights into the many subtle psychological adjustments made by both a mother serving a life sentence for murdering her husband, and by her now grown daughter, who was robbed of both a father and mother as a result of the crime.

[Kirsten] Fitzgerald is a brilliant actress whose physical and emotional life onstage are so authentic you sometimes fear for her health. Tiny and taut, [Lindsay] Gould holds her own every step of the way, even giving brilliant little flashes of her mother's temper at moments -- flashes tempered by a very different psyche.

To her credit, Munro also has made the prison guards real people with complex personalities, and they are expertly played here by Steve Misetic and Anita Deely. Kurt Johns has done a first-rate job.


Windy City Times review by Jonathan Abarbanel
Go see Iron and you'll see two women acting their hearts out in a drama that puts them through the many paces and faces of a mother-daughter relationship. It's a splendid showcase of laughter, tears and tension for Kirsten Fitzgerald (Fay) and Lindsay Gould (Josie), as directed by Kurt Johns.