A Night in November | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Night in November


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A NIGHT IN NOVEMBER, Seanachai Theatre Company, at Victory Gardens Theater. Marie Jones's play presents that staple of Irish theater, one man trying to come to grips with the Troubles--but introduces the wrinkle of using only one man. Though nicely observed and occasionally humorous, this one-man show treats an overfamiliar topic predictably, and the force of the Moral makes the whole thing taste faintly medicinal.

After realizing at a soccer match that his fellow Catholic-hating Protestants are nasty thugs, Kenneth Norman McCallister upends his entire life. He joins a largely Catholic group headed to New York to cheer on the Irish World Cup team, discovering en route the brotherhood of man. But because his original epiphany is unpersuasive--why was that night different from all other nights?--his odyssey seems formulaic, a sort of "Catholic Like Me."

John Dunleavy plays all the roles skillfully, leavening Kenneth's pretransformation obnoxiousness with his own winning personality. As Kenneth's father-in-law, Dunleavy's a persuasive jerk; as his wife, he's a prig of the Dame Edna Everidge variety; as his Catholic boss, he's warmly forgiving. It's not his fault that each of these characters is a type rather than a person. There are good lines--we know everything about Kenneth's wife once he says her shoes look like a pair of "black patent leather rottweilers"--but overall Jones has written a better speech than a play.

--Kelly Kleiman

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