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An Unenchanted Evening

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AN UNENCHANTED EVENING, Experimental Theatre Chicago, at Chicago Actors Studio. Part sketch comedy, part spoken-word performance, part movement-based theater, this eclectic show written and performed by an all-female ensemble looks like it opened way too early. It seems the director and dramaturge didn't have time to trim the less successful scenes, and the performers didn't have a chance to get comfortable with their lines.

The evening's first sketch wobbles. It begins as a mildly witty disclaimer in which the actors apologize for the show's bad bits, but it runs on so long the joke stops being funny. Soon enough we learn that inexperience and a lack of confidence and commitment also haunt the rest of the revue. Scenes that might have been funny are stillborn here, as when one performer waits and waits and waits for some unknown event. A more expert performer might have filled these seemingly empty moments with activity. But as a rule waiting is something that interests an audience for at most 20 seconds.

Still, some of the material is bracingly honest and original, most notably a hilarious but touching autobiographical piece about all the proms and dances Meredith Rae Lyons attended in high school. It makes one wonder how strong the show might have been if director Jaclyn Biskup and dramaturge Shannon Latimer had spent more time collecting and condensing material.

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