Am I Blue and The Road to Nineveh | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Am I Blue and The Road to Nineveh

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AM I BLUE and THE ROAD TO NINEVEH, Punkin Productions, at the Ivanhoe Theater. In Beth Henley's Am I Blue a naive college boy takes a walk on the wild side of the New Orleans French Quarter with a prematurely sophisticated waif. In Le Wilhelm's The Road to Nineveh a motorist bound for Nineveh, Arkansas, on Christmas Eve finds himself snowbound in Jerusalem, Tennessee, where he's offered hospitality by a lone lady mysteriously prepared to receive him. Both plays, though well crafted, feature plots as predictable as sitcoms, denouements as sweet and wholesome as eggnog, and characters of the eccentric southern type smartass young actors love to caricature.

But the Punkin Productions ensemble don't put themselves above their material, even when that material is as flimsy as last spring's Welcome to the Moon or these exercises in dialogue. Each player has carefully searched out his or her character's truth and expresses it with dignity and compassion. Michele Greco makes the transition from the birdlike teenager of Am I Blue to the weary matron of The Road to Nineveh with never a trace of spillover. Don Kozlowski, as the college youth, and Eric Haessler, as the rootless traveler, make these unlikely swains whole, honest, if imperfect partners worthy of women who march to their own drummer. Director Brad Nelson Winters makes the most of a cramped set inherited from another company using the Ivanhoe basement space.

At one point a character in The Road to Nineveh praises the merits of string beans, but Punkin Productions demonstrates that corn can go down nicely, too.

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