Inventing Van Gogh Reviews


“I’m a sucker for art capers, and this one here is bolstered by some crisp direction from Aaron Henrickson and some refreshingly solid acting. Christine Vrem-Ydstie is great fun to watch as the wounded art ingenue, and Adam Schulmerich practically reinvents the role of the ruthless European art dealer. The performances, the direction, and the Bedfellows’ general enthusiasm for the material won me over”

–  John Dalton, Centerstage Chicago



“…catapulting us through time at a velocity to induce vertigo in the most ardent Tom Stoppard fan. Well, why write about antic visionaries, if not to go a little mad? Director Aaron Henrickson never leaves us to wander alone and confused amid Dietz’ historical polemics, nor does his valiant cast… Thus are we immersed in an environment teeming with inventive actualization…”

– Mary Shenn Barnidge, Windy City Times


“Sean Thomas gives an enlivening performance, his enthusiasms—much like those of Dr. Miller’s himself—being remarkably infectious. Thomas, more so than anyone else, aptly conveys the dream-like whimsy of the play, eschewing too strictly a realistic portrayal in favor of something ever-so-slightly exaggerated, larger-than-life and even magical. And Adam Schulmerich demonstrates a considerable range, fluidly transitioning between the effete Bouchard to the gruff Gauguin without a hitch. Exhaustively thorough, Schulmerich is one of those actors who employs all the resources at his disposal—both vocal as well as physical—in crafting subtle portraitures of incredible distinction.

So ultimately despite Inventing Van Gogh’s more obtuse qualities, I’ll venture to say that Strange Bedfellow’s current mounting is still worth the price of admission. At times as wildly out-of-control as Van Gogh himself, there’s nonetheless something intoxicating about its particular brand of madness. Never content to simply tell us what it’s trying to say, the play requires that we actively wade through the muck to find it out. And only even then do we find ourselves reflected back at us. Much like the action internal to the play itself, extracting meaning from Inventing Van Gogh is its own form of self-portraiture.”

– Anthony Mangini, Chicago Crtic


“In Strange Bedfellows Theatre’s intimate, low-budget production, directed by Aaron Henrickson, the cast infuse Dietz’s sometimes grandiose preachments on art with earnest passion”

– Albert Williams, The Chicago Reader


“The story takes place in Patrick’s disheveled studio (designed by Dustin Pettigrew) and moves from past to present at any given time without warning; but the actors are as convincing in one realm as they are in the other. Patrick Cameron, bearing a striking resemblance to the late screen idol Patrick Swayze, exudes equal fear and confidence as the artist who has sold out and soon realizes that he may be in need of psychiatric help as he sees his own life mysteriously forming a parallel to Van Gogh’s.

Riley McIlveen is a stunning Vincent Van Gogh. He recreates all the bold passion, torture and sensitivity of Van Gogh, as he encapsulated fields of daisies, starry nights and made celebration of simple things like an empty chair. Christine Vrem-Ydstic, Adam Schulmerich and Sean Thomas make lighting quick changes that fuse past and present into a delightful hybrid here and now. In addition, to completely immerse the audience, artists abound in this production. Patrick Cameron paints onstage and in the lobby before the performance and during intermission, local artists are seated at easels painting Van Gogh portraits. Inventing Van Gogh is historic and audacious and runs through August 25 at the City Lit Theatre on the second floor of the Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 W. Bryn Maw”

—Ruth Smerling, Theatre World Internet Magazine