Breakdown and Out | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Breakdown and Out

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BREAKDOWN AND OUT, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. "Reality is a crutch," says the bumper sticker. That seems to be David Hauptschein's view in his new play, a mystifying tale of how family and friends struggle over the disposition of a dead woman's house. Her sane sister is a mass of twitches, and the crazy one can't leave the house except by telekinesis. The boyfriend marks his territory by dropping mashed pop cans and spritzing dead plants while practicing as well as preaching the gospel of out-of-body experiences. Got all that?

Watching Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company in Breakdown and Out is like watching early Steppenwolf do early Sam Shepard. The actors are at full throttle, Richard Cotovsky's direction is lively and assured, and the wordplay is marvelous, a sort of sped-up sound track of this marginal world. And if the story doesn't quite add up--if the point gets lost in the virtuosity--that seems a mere quibble.

A few actors stand out in this uniformly excellent cast. Brad Light as the boyfriend is like a young Sean Penn in his startling transitions from humor to rage and in his graceful physicality, and no one could do a better job of speaking into a long-stemmed red rose. Kipleigh Brown as the crazy sister manages to walk off with the play despite not coming on until the second act and rarely rising from the couch. Andy Hager does well with his turn as the realtor, hopelessly lost in a world where the real means less than nothing.

--Kelly Kleiman

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