Beast on the Moon | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Beast on the Moon

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Beast on the Moon, Lincoln Square Theatre, at the Berry Memorial United Methodist Church. There are a few false notes in Richard Kalinoski's 1995 script about survivor's guilt among Armenians after the Turks' attempted 1915 genocide, but none in Leah Rose's performance as the refugee bride of an Armenian who made it to America without managing to escape his history. Playing every facet of her character, from childlike and terrified to impatient and defiant, Rose is appealing throughout. David Gray is equally capable as her husband but has the unenviable task of playing an embittered patriarch too caught up in what he lost to value what he has. Admirably determined not to overplay his pivotal speech, about an encounter with the Turks, Gray resorts to soap-opera tricks to communicate restraint, but most of his performance is finely balanced between unsparing and affectionate.

The other two performers--Jerry Miller as the Gentleman and Christopher Slavik as Vincent, a neighborhood child--don't fare as well. Miller, who also directs, has the speeches most overtly designed to Make People Feel Bad About What Happened and delivers them in just that emphatic way. (The part demonstrates how difficult it is to write a memory play.) Slavik's Vincent is charming but neither stylized enough to be symbolic nor realistic. This is nevertheless a thoughtful, nonpreachy take on a subject that could easily have foundered on pieties. Rebekka Steiling's period costumes contribute greatly.

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