Intimans three-hour production of Robert Sherwoods 70-year-old play pays off painlessly, yielding a surprisingly funny, tender portrait of a self-doubting yokel whose uncommon empathy overrides his own considerable resistance to the call of service. Impishly played by Erik Lochtefeld, Abe starts out as a loose-lipped, musket-toting yahoo whose goofy good nature (plus his brawn) has a civilizing effect on Illinois hooligans. Directed by Sheila Daniels, the shows attention is split between a regular man rising above his fears and the community that gestates and births him. That communitys needs shape the gifts he offers, however reluctantly. But as he rises in the world, the staging imagery increasingly emphasizes his alienation and apotheosis. The dais from his candidates debate with Stephen Douglas becomes a catafalque for a marked man, buoyed by members of the adoring public and slowly receding into the horizon of history. MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.] Extended run: Three performances have been added, 7:30 p.m. Tues., Nov. 17-Thurs., Nov. 19.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 2. Continues through Nov. 19, 2009