Childe Bryon | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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CHILDE BYRON, Stone Circle Theatre Ensemble, at Profiles Theatre. If anyone ever puts out an interactive CD-ROM chronicling the life of Lord Byron, it might turn out very much like Romulus Linney's play. A series of discrete, overanimated scenes show Byron squirming under the thumb of his overbearing mother, impregnating his sister, sodomizing his pregnant wife, and generally flipping 19th-century British morality the bird. Trouble is, escapades don't add up to a life, let alone drama. It seems Linney raided several encyclopedias and strung up the naughty bits like laundry on a line. He tries to add psychological and emotional complexity through the character of Byron's daughter Ada, a hyperrational, terminally ill mathematician who sets the play in motion by summoning the spirit of her deceased hyper-Romantic father. But Ada's professed need to understand the father she never knew seems academic--and in any case Linney drops the Ada-as-medium convention halfway through the play.

Stone Circle doesn't breathe much life into this two-hour show-and-tell. Crowding too many people onto a cramped stage, director Jennifer Blackmer has her hands full just directing traffic. As Ada and Byron, Leigh M. Green and Simon Clements seem bemused and disengaged, marking time with the rest of the cast as though all of them were waiting for someone to explain what this play is about.

--Justin Hayford

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