Brilliant Traces | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Brilliant Traces, Swing for the Fences Productions, at the Cornservatory. Dressed in a wedding gown, she's driven 3,000 miles without stopping, and now she finds herself stranded by a snowstorm at a remote cabin in Alaska inhabited by another solitary refugee. Like her, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, but the storm forces these unlikely companions to endure each other's company.

Playwright Cindy Lou Johnson's encounter-therapy dynamic allows for a nearly infinite number of interpretations of this scenario, making Brilliant Traces a favorite of storefront theaters. But director Kurt Naebig has made some puzzling choices in his staging of this mainstay. For withdrawn waifs who allegedly haven't spoken with another human being in a long time, these characters seem a little too eager to articulate their feelings and a little too quick to get physical--an approach that gives their revelations the menace of a Sam Shepard showdown.

But every staging of a play creates its own universe. And though this debut production by Swing for the Fences sets up a universe slightly grittier than playgoers might expect, Johnny Clark and Alexis Gladd's wholesale commitment to that concept makes for characters engaging enough to sustain Johnson's parable of spiritual resurrection.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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