Anna Lucasta | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Anna Lucasta

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ANNA LUCASTA, Fleetwood-Jordain Theatre. Like most community-theater productions, Fleetwood-Jordain's Anna Lucasta requires a high tolerance for amateur-itis: dropped cues, swallowed lines, indiscriminate blocking, interminable scene changes. Phillip Edward VanLear's staging of Philip Yordan's classic drama of the gold-hearted prostitute trying to make good--immortalized in the 1958 Eartha Kitt-Sammy Davis Jr. film, as well as in the 1949 all-white movie version--stretches into three long hours, with scenes and acts that peter out rather than coming to meaningful conclusions.

And, as in most community theater, these fumblings are as endearing as they are irritating. This production may screech to a halt more often than a delayed el train at rush hour, but the cast's heartfelt commitment keeps things largely on track. Brian E. Smith turns in some sharp comic work as Anna's know-it-all brother-in-law Frank, and Darren Jones stokes up the charm as her wide-eyed paramour. But the evening belongs to Kathy Kidd, whose rock-solid performance as Anna is a marvel. Rather than turn up the bathos, she directs nearly every impulse inward, playing against the character's anguish in a stoic performance that's never less than captivating.

--Justin Hayford

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