(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 9/25.)

Why has this country become so ferociously polarized? And why has the American electoral landscape become so distressingly fraught, tattered and seemingly irreconcilable about so many things?

These are the questions addressed in “The City of Conversation,” the uncannily timely, uniquely balanced, multi-generational drama by playwright-novelist Anthony Giardina, now receiving a live-wire Midwest premiere at Northlight Theatre under the direction of Marti Lyons.

Making a clear-eyed assessment of the present as extracted from the not-so-distant past, Giardina homes in on the many reasons why the center has failed to hold, and why, since the 1960s, positions have become so entrenched, while the essential social glue that once made a certain amount of compromise possible has disappeared. To be sure, at certain points Giardina stretches things a bit to make his case, yet anyone who has witnessed the tension between friends and family members during the current election cycle might say he has not stretched things far enough. The so-called “culture wars,” that really have been raging since the 1960s, seem to be more heated than ever, with the front lines redrawn in ever starker ways.


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