4 Murders | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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Brett Neveu continues his explorations into issues of identity, violence, and dislocation in America, this time in an urban setting instead of his usual small-town milieu. The title reveals the plot--four people are indeed dispatched--but not the story, which concerns the frustrations and obsessions of those killed more than it does the motives of the nebbishy, chameleonic killer (played with an eerie calm by Lawrence MacGowan). Four tightly crafted scenes, each functioning as a one-act in itself, provide snapshots of the victims: a shut-in writer, a talkative executive, a pissed-off factory worker, and a middle-aged man in a down-at-the-heels hotel. Neveu is often compared to Mamet, but here he comes closer to Harold Pinter and his "comedy of menace," with touches of Edward Albee. Though the script's austere language can be distancing, Neveu never has fun at the characters' expense. Director Guy Van Swearingen appropriately avoids histrionics, treating the murders themselves in a stylized, muted way, and the cast is generally excellent. This may not be Neveu's best work, but it's an intriguing piece loaded with his usual mix of intelligence, compassion, and dark humor. Through 6/5: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. Sun 5/22, 3 PM only. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, 312-943-8722. $14-$20.

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