A Piece of My Heart | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Piece of My Heart

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A PIECE OF MY HEART, A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company, at the Cornservatory. Shirley Lauro's play, adapted from Keith Walker's book about female veterans of the Vietnam war, is more an episodic compilation of oral histories than a character-driven drama. Here six women tell us how they came to be military or Red Cross nurses, USO girls, or intelligence specialists, how they survived, and what effect the war had on their lives. But none of the women is developed enough for us to feel a connection to their panic, pleasure, or pain.

Though the play is occasionally educational, its view of women is also surprisingly short on empowerment. A sisterhood forming among them is mentioned in passing, but we don't see it. And though they're portrayed as naive or overwhelmed or broken down, we don't see the strength and courage they must have had to endure the horrors they describe. The substance that would make us admire these characters is AWOL, and as a result Michael Buino's cast tries too hard to make Lauro's choppy scenes of recollected feelings intimate or intense.

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