Aurora | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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Aurora, at UNITE Hall. The prologue to this play informs us that, due to straitened circumstances, the company has been forced to lay off actors, necessitating double-casting of some roles, and to tailor the play to resemble romantic comedy. This might be only the author's playfulness, but labor lawyer turned playwright Thomas Geoghegan does seem more confident addressing wage negotiations and two-tier economics than hearts and flowers. His scenes detailing the strike at the Aurora Car Company have the authenticity of personal experience, while those dealing with disillusioned lawyer Gil Chmiewleski's choice between the icy Julia and the airheaded Ann are a catalog of melodramatic cliches: bogus shootings, accidental intoxications, dream sequences, and blown fuses. Then there's the throwaway regional and occupational humor--the law firm is named Shaw & Mamet, for example, and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln makes a couple of cameo appearances.

Fortunately this production has seasoned director Terry McCabe at the helm and off-Loop mainstays John Neisler, Rebecca Covey, and John Dunleavy in key roles. Together with some newcomers from the college and community-theater circuits, they manage to forge a semblance of dramatic action and character from Geoghegan's well-meaning but ingenuous mix of gritty contemporary docudrama and fluffy retrograde farce.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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