The smile on Lila Michael's face during the Baglady curtain call last Saturday was tentative at best. Having just reprised her role as the title character for only the second time since a grueling six-week run last fall at the now defunct Voltaire, she looked physically drained and emotionally spent after an hour as the mentally ill vagrant in Frank McGuinness's cryptic, turbulent script. This graphic, unsettling play makes for an uncomfortable evening for everyone, partly because Michael is an actress of profound depth and skill. In fact she throws herself into her role so completely that even when she casts off her grimy babushka and tattered pea coat, it's still hard to grasp that she's an actor. There simply isn't one false note in her performance. Nova Productions is remounting Baglady at the Theatre Building for a whistle-stop before heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where a production of McGuinness's play first caught director Sara Elmore's eye over a decade ago. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. Through July 26: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $12; $20 for the benefit performance Saturday, July 25. --Nick Green
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.