Being at Choice | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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BEING AT CHOICE, Factory Theater, at Prop Thtr. Michael Meredith's affectionate 1996 parody of support groups is not quite sharp or dark enough for a full-length play. Though we grow to care about its seven quixotic characters, especially as they're portrayed by this charismatic ensemble, what's missing is a cohesive narrative. Instead, as directed by Nick Digilio, Being at Choice is a series of funny, often silly sketches about a 24-hour self-help seminar.

Poking gentle fun at therapy and at the way people entrap themselves, the play shows seminar attendees bonding through exercises like yelling at their fathers and creating dances of love with a partner. But the only believable transformation comes from Laura McKenzie, whose character grows from a nervous, hollow-eyed rabbit into a woman convinced of her power. Scott Oken as the facilitator is the right mix of pumped self-help guru, kind therapist, and neurotic, rage-driven screwball. He delivers such mundane slogans as "Secrets are chains that hold us back" in a way that's both funny and convincing--you're almost persuaded that they will in fact change your life, then laugh at yourself for thinking it.

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