A Going Concern | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Going Concern


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A Going Concern, Famous Door Theatre Company. It seems that every few minutes in this play some employee of the floundering Chapel billiard-table factory shouts in defiance or despair, "This is a family business!" It's an important clue for audiences, since playwright Stephen Jeffreys has done precious little to create any semblance of familial relations among the men who populate his drama.

A Going Concern has all the ingredients of a great Arthur Miller play. Three generations of Chapel men toil in their squalid London factory. Brothers Jack and Gordon want to oust their elderly father from the business, citing his erratic performance, while Gordon's savagely ambitious son Tony would gladly betray every family loyalty to increase the company's profits. Thrown into the mix is a by-the-book female accountant who unearths long-standing financial irregularities that leave the men at one another's throats.

Despite generally fine acting by director Karen Kessler's cast--anytime you have Roderick Peeples, Daniel J. Rivkin, and Patrick New in the same show you're halfway home--Jeffreys's script remains oddly inert. The men come across as strangers, their broad quirks leaving them isolated from rather than connected to one another. Worse, their crises are glibly dramatized. We know the Chapel company is in financial trouble, for example, only because the men say it is. Over and over again.

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