Birdbath | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Trap Door Theatre.

Opening a new theater space has done in many a production. American Blues Theatre encountered such logistical nightmares getting their new space ready last spring that Monsters III barely hobbled to the finish line. In 1988 Lookingglass mounted their debut production, Of One Blood, in a freshly insulated room so thick with caustic fumes the company offered to refund everyone's admission.

Let's hope the folks at Trap Door can similarly excuse their unfocused, ill-conceived Birdbath, which christens their handsome new Bucktown space: this play has all the excitement of flat champagne. Leonard Melfi's predictable 1965 one-act about Velma and Frankie, two miserably lonely cafeteria workers who come together one night only to tear themselves apart, proceeds at such a dawdling pace that what little tension Melfi provides dissipates within ten minutes. As Velma, Beata Pilch is likable but tepid, especially considering that her tragic secret, if you can believe it, is that she sliced up her mother with a bread knife earlier in the day. As Frankie, Ben Byer sleepwalks. It would seem the only way to get a rise out of this actor would be to drop him from a high place.

How director Daniel Taube, who brought David Rabe's In the Boom Boom Room so vibrantly to life earlier this year, could direct this production with such seeming indifference is a mystery. The furious energy of Trap Door's promising debut, The Madman and the Nun, has been replaced by a general listlessness--not the kind of energy that will keep the company in rent.

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