Brilliant Traces | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Brilliant Traces

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Brilliant Traces, Shattered Globe Theatre.

Henry Harry lives in a remote cabin deep in the Alaskan woods, but one night this hermit's solitude is broken by a young woman in bridal garb who staggers in from a snowstorm. After telling her tale, of having driven nonstop from Arizona until her car died at his doorstep, she faints from hunger, exhaustion, and exposure. Almost against his will Harry puts her to bed, prepares food for her, and dresses her in his own warm clothes. When she awakens, the two of them must confront the reasons for their isolation and the significance of their meeting.

Cindy Lou Johnson's Brilliant Traces poses a tangle of questions and then slowly and carefully follows each thread of inquiry to its logical conclusion. Director Louis Contey in this Shattered Globe production offers a dark, Shepardian interpretation of a delicate play. Complete with sudden grapples and equally sudden embraces, the characters' emotions riding very close to the surface, this staging makes the script's roots in the genre of "therapeutic encounter between two odd people" annoyingly obvious, as does the awkwardly restrictive set from And a Nightingale Sang. Still, Mara Casey and Steve Key generate enough sweaty sexual tension to make this off-night production an intense, interesting one-on-one workout for two noteworthy actors.

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