Battle Scars | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Battle Scars, Fillet of Solo Festival, Live Bait Theater, through August 24. The title ties together two pieces with little in common. Lotti Pharriss's Fear Itself is much the stronger, as Pharriss--in gas mask and apron festooned with alarming press clippings--explores the way irrational fears suddenly became rational on September 11. A convert to Catholicism (she calls it "the perfect religion for people with OCD"), she's an appealing performer with a gift for the loopy: before going out she makes sure her cat's not in the refrigerator. But unfortunately she fails to address the costs of being paralyzed by fear. "Am I crazy to feel sad when bad things happen?" she asks, when the important question is not how she feels but what she does about it. Still, hers is an original voice.

Beth Ann Bryant-Richards can't seem to decide whether she wants Daddy Died for His Country to be about her father's influence on her, his difficult adaptation to civilian life, or his death by leukemia resulting from radiation exposure at Hiroshima. She's a fine mimic, offering superb renditions of her mother, who wants to be reincarnated as daddy "because he's a son of a bitch but everybody likes him." Bryant-Richards has nothing new to say about nuclear weapons, however, and her claim of victim status for her career-military father, on par with Japanese civilians, is in questionable taste. If the point is that "I can't play army with my child," she needs to get there faster.

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