A Piece of Bone | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Piece of Bone

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A Piece of Bone, Circle Theatre. In Aline Lathrop's play, being given its world premiere by Circle Theatre, a dysfunctional family gathers after the suicide of one of its members. The fact that the man had a wildly successful career, a doting wife, and a devoted mistress and, like Prospero, owned his own island makes his death all the more troubling, raising a cloud of existential questions.

Where there's crisis, there's drama. Or so you would think. But Lathrop is clearly still an apprentice, and A Piece of Bone is one of those plays it would have been best to put in a drawer--or, better yet, a trash can. The characters are flat, and the storytelling is awkward at best, nonexistent at worst. Instead of taking us on a journey, Lathrop gives us a seemingly infinite series of two-person scenes in which family members trade banalities. Yet for all their talk, they express precious few emotions. The play's most refreshing ten seconds are those in which the surviving brother weeps briefly for his sibling--a moment soon replaced by more inane chatter.

All the actors have the hunched-over, uncomfortable look common in badly directed community theater. And when everyone in the cast is this awful, it's unlikely it's their fault. Instead look to the script, the director (Alena Murguia here), or both.

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