Ariadne's Thread, Victory Gardens Theater. Virtually everything is right about the 29th-season opener at Victory Gardens. Written by Chicago playwright Ann Noble and directed by Victory Gardens associate artistic director Sandy Shinner, Ariadne's Thread is a marvel of precision and timing, a fast-paced series of pithy scenes and pleasant surprises deftly executed.
This contemporary dramatic comedy draws its title from the myth of the Cretan princess who fell in love with Theseus, the mortal who slew the Minotaur. Ariadne gave Theseus a silken thread to unspool in his wake in order to find his way out of the labyrinth. Once out, he dumped her. She was known for her fabulous hair and was worshiped by women as a goddess.
What more divine emblem could there be for seven modern women required, sometimes against their will, to provide lifelines for one another? Most of the seven--a writer of feminist erotica, literary agent, literary critic, Broadway ingenue, professor of classics, divorcee, and nurse--appear unaffiliated at the outset. But over the course of this two-and-a-half-hour production, the interlocking pieces of their lives draw them into a closed sphere. The thread that leads them through the maze of interpersonal relationships is the telephone, and Jack Magaw's high-tech set is aptly metaphoric, simultaneously evoking rotaries, labyrinths, and cellular technology. Unlike their spiritual ancestor, these votaries are bound closer together by the thread.