SAVAGE/LOVE and ALL MEN ARE WHORES: An Inquiry, Divine Intervention Productions, at Bailiwick Repertory. Perhaps someday young directors will realize that good acting requires something besides robust displays of earnestness. Somehow the four-year-old Boston company Divine Intervention Productions (now transplanted to Chicago) has contrived to make Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin's Savage/Love and David Mamet's All Men Are Whores into 70 minutes of sincere monologues so wistful and well behaved you might think you were watching the staged adaptation of your high school yearbook.
Director Alexandra Blunt renders the two plays indistinguishable--a remarkable feat considering that Savage/Love's iconographic images and incantatory verse couldn't be more at odds with the cynical, hard-edged prose of All Men Are Whores. Each play is structured as a series of disjointed soliloquies on the impossibility of love, and Blunt's actors treat each fragment as a big, poignant moment in which to display their emotional range. But the ideas linking the monologues go largely unexplored, and the evening ends up feeling like a string of audition pieces.
Missing too is attention to subtext. The actors play almost every line at face value, rarely considering Mamet's cautionary remark, quoted in their own program: "No one really says what they mean, but they always mean what they mean." Sometimes a few well-placed lies are all an actor needs to give a monologue some depth.