Behind the Broken Words | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Behind the Broken Words


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Behind the Broken Words

Thank heaven for guys like Roscoe Lee Browne and Anthony Zerbe. Two of America's finest dramatic actors, they make a comfortable living playing character roles in movies and TV shows--but their love of their craft and pleasure in offbeat projects regularly takes them on the road too, so audiences can savor their seasoned, imaginative artistry in the flesh. The duo, appearing this weekend in the south suburbs, has been touring off and on for more than 20 years with this theatrical anthology (Zerbe calls it a verbal "avalanche") of poetry by such writers as Auden, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Turning verse into monologues and miniature plays, they create compelling characters from such selections as T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and Richard Wright's "Between the World and Me," a terrifying portrait of a man about to be lynched. Starting the two-act evening in total darkness in order to focus attention on their words alone, the actors also pass out programs only at the end of the show: they don't want listeners to second-guess the material. Their aim is to shake poetry free of literary abstraction and communicate its visceral dramatic power. If anyone can do it they can: underlying Browne's elegant baritone and Zerbe's crisp tenor are their long careers as Shakespeareans, yet they're also attuned to American audiences' affinity for high energy and emotional immediacy. Moraine Valley Community College, Fine and Performing Arts Center, Dorothy Menker Theater, 10900 S. 88th, Palos Hills, 708-974-5500 or TTY/TDD 708-974-9556. Sunday, February 1, 7 PM. $14.25.

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.

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