Bedlam | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bedlam, at the Playground. In this late-night comedy, written and directed by Andy Eninger, small-time performance artist Danny Farragut springs his boundary-blurring works, which usually involve his bed, on unsuspecting visitors to a drapery museum. Free-associative scenes jump from present to future to ancient past, eventually revealing unlikely connections between Garp-ishly fatherless provocateur Danny and the seriously offbeat museum.

This work's structure is sound, its presentation congenial, its cast more than equal to Eninger's acrobatic demands--but the lightweight script achieves its mild insights and gentle chuckles with such languor the audience might well wish for a time machine of its own. The problem isn't one of treatment. As Danny, Jon Forsythe is energetic and engaging, a perfect oddball master of ceremonies. Steve Scholz offers strong work in several roles, especially a schoolmarmish drag turn, and the rest of the players--Mandy Price, Elizabeth McNaughton, Lindsay Saunders, Marianna Runge, Merrie Greenfield, and Peter Fitzsimmons--are all good. Some audience-participation bits go off just fine, and even the obligatory production number and reprise aren't so intolerable.

As a director, Eninger clearly has a handle on what he's doing. But about halfway through, his longish script's pleasant but aimless quality decays to a plodding lifelessness, rendering everyone's best efforts academic.

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