All Tied Up in Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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All Tied Up in Love


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All Tied Up in Love, BackStage Theatre Company, at the Cornelia Arts Building. Matthew Ethan Davis's new play changes course so often an audience could get whiplash. First it's a romantic comedy. Then it's a farce. Then it's a drama. Then it's an after-school special, admonishing one character in therapyspeak to let somebody love him. This lack of focus makes the play somewhat dull and hard to follow, and matters aren't improved by director Matthew Kerns's long blackouts between scenes.

Paul, who's straight, falls in love with a guy who's flamingly gay. Alfred C. Kemp is very good in the role of Paul: rising far above the material, he gives the character intelligence and a gentle thoughtfulness, making it clear why Kenny (Shawn Quinlan) would fall for him. What's not clear is why Paul would fall for Kenny, who in the worst kind of gay stereotyping is whiny, needy, overly dependent on his mother, and obsessed with his clothes. Their budding relationship is undermined by Kenny's friend and ex-lover Curtis (Moshe Adams, who demonstrates good comic timing) and by Kenny's controlling mother (Kate Winters), who starts off being sharply funny and ends up talking like Dr. Phil. There's also some background fuss about Kenny's love for light kink--hence the title--but it never becomes part of the character or the story.

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