A Hotel on Marvin Gardens | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Hotel on Marvin Gardens

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A Hotel on Marvin Gardens, Pendulum Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Nagle Jackson's heavy-handed but intermittently engaging play tackles Americans' elephant in the living room: class warfare. Jackson (who indicted materialism in his The Quick-Change Room) targets K.C., the control-freak CEO of "Me magazine." Her annual April Fools' power trip, a daylong Monopoly party endured by her uneasy employees, ultimately exposes her greed and pettiness. On her private island off the Connecticut coast in a house crammed with treasures she barely notices, K.C. throws herself into the game--she doesn't see that its victories are as artificial as the success she enjoys by an accident of birth.

As if it weren't obvious enough to use Monopoly to attack American excess and economic inequities, Nagle adds an outsider to the mix on the island: a fifth-grade teacher. Instantly her natural worth outweighs all the pretensions of these parasitical hacks--a publisher, an editor, and a restaurant critic who rake in obscene salaries for doing far less good than the teacher.

Director Bill Redding relishes the details of character in Jackson's antimonopoly game, contrasting Lindsay Porter's coldly manipulative K.C. with Carrie Lee Patterson's perky proletariat teacher. Porter, however, might have varied her sulky glower with hints of K.C.'s yearning for a respect not based in fear. As K.C.'s long-suffering editor, Michael Pacas forces frustrations that ought to flow from the character. Best here are Robert John Keating as a well-meaning toady and Melissa Riemer as the unctuous, dense, but good-hearted food critic.

--Lawrence Bommer

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