Carpe Dream | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Carpe Dream, Homegrown Productions, at Voltaire. You never know what you'll find at this venue: who would have guessed that a new work by an unknown playwright and staged by the aptly named Homegrown Productions would turn out to be so much fun? In Pauline Dessler's Carpe Dream Susie Poole is a young newlywed mired in agoraphobia since the night she returned home and surprised a burglar. Help is on the way, however, in the form of the Women in Crisis team--featuring such heavy hitters as Ariadne, Athena, Cassandra, Aphrodite, and Helen of Troy--against whose intervention not even Susie's dominating mother can prevail.

The play's premise could produce a sitcom farce or recovery testimonial, but Dessler doesn't take the easy road. Drawing on her knowledge of mythology and psychology, she satirizes self-help therapy even as she demonstrates its usefulness, finding a subtle humor in the small ways people make each other crazy (as when Susie's mother asks her housebound daughter, "Will you be at home?"). And the cast assembled by director Elizabeth Flahive, many of them not yet out of high school, create distinctive but never overbroad personalities. The congeniality award must be shared by the goddesses, however, a jolly sorority who definitely find in vino veritas. Though still in need of some fine-tuning, Dessler's script is smart and charming enough to make any flaws seem negligible.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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