Empty pools and tragic Greek fools: new performing arts reviews

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The gods have their little joke in Idomeneus
  • Jonathan L. Green
  • The gods have their little joke in Idomeneus
With most Chicago companies deep in rehearsal, prepping for the mid-September openings blitz, it would be pretty dead out there if not for the Chicago Fringe Festival. The 11-day event presents 48 shows at various Pilsen venues.

As for the few nonfest shows running now:

Expert use of choral speaking and strong audio and visual design make Sideshow Theatre Company's Idomeneus the solitary Reader-recommended production of the week. Our Albert Williams reports that German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig turns the Greek tale into an exploration of war, duty, and survivor's guilt.

Dan Jakes isn't nearly so pleased with Pool (No Water), a drama about a successful artist who's abused by her peers while lying comatose after a diving accident. "Pretentious verse, questionable dialects, and long, dull stretches of contact improvisation" reduce the play to the very kind of art it was meant to denounce. Change the Night Owl also misfires on all cylinders. Judi Lee and Cady Leinicke provide above-average performances but don't make up for the faults of this sex farce presented at Prop Thtr.

Richard Nelson's Sweet and Sad depicts the effects of 9/11 on an upper-middle-class family as they gather for lunch on the tenth anniversary of the catastrophe. The cast give exceptional performances in Profiles Theatre's staging, says Justin Hayford, but the play itself suffers from poor structure. Marvin's Room deals with death, too, yet never really confronts it. Mary Redmon's age-blind version for Circle Theatre depletes an already flawed story.

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