Bamboozled | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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BAMBOOZLED, Van Chester Productions, at Voltaire. Sean Farrell is a prolific young playwright-performer who's had five works produced over the last three years. Judging from Bamboozled, his monologues have a directness that makes even the most painful confessional engaging. Farrell's latest effort, whose title comes from Virginia Woolf's admonition to never relax "the determination...not to be bamboozled," hints at the precarious task of warding off uncomfortable emotions.

Farrell wants these tales of love shared or sought to provide the same comfort that holding an unlit cigarette provides his surrogate Connie, an ex-smoker. Connie describes his hard-boiled sister, who didn't know she was a bitch; a brother whose hard-ass attitude toward women created crises; and his mother, who lived by a code of finality, dismissing what couldn't be helped even when it might have been. Her resistance to hurt has been triggered by a husband who deserted them, but it softens before her death, when she shares trenchant memories with her son. Finally we hear how Connie met a woman at an auto repair shop and married her three weeks later, though he fears that having a child will expose them to fortune's slings and arrows.

Farrell tells his well-shaped stories with casual grace and well-earned intensity. Unfortunately, he becomes inaudible during the intimate revelations--the very ones we most want to hear. Voltaire's poor acoustics are to be fought, not embraced. --Lawrence Bommer

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