Accomplices | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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ACCOMPLICES, Iron Muse Theatre Company, at the O Bar & Cafe. Paul Moulton has a humdinger of a concept for his new play. He's set the action on the front line of the abortion battle, as a throng of zealous pro-lifers clash with smug pro-choicers trying to usher patients into a women's health clinic. After a few petty skirmishes, the fanatical leader of the antiabortionists is found dead in a nearby dumpster, her throat slashed with a piece of glass from her shattered bottle of holy water. The clinic's security guard, a moonlighting cop trying to make detective, takes on the investigation despite her contempt for the murdered woman.

Trouble is, Moulton's skills as a dramatist aren't up to the demands of his volatile murder mystery. Veering wildly between social satire and NYPD Blue melodrama, his scenes are like flash cards, each meant to quickly deliver one or two pieces of information. The intricacies of the characters' motivations get lost in the shuffle. Frederick D. Katona's static direction, which leaves actors standing in a line across the stage for much of the evening, also prevents the play from picking up steam. Only in the final two scenes, as the guilty parties confess, does Moulton deliver the emotional and political complexity a play like this demands. --Justin Hayford

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