Childe Byron | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Childe Byron


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CHILDE BYRON, TinFish Productions, at the Greenview Arts Center. It would be difficult to make a piece of theater less visually interesting than TinFish's production of Romulus Linney's Childe Byron. First there's the cramped Greenview Gallery, a basement room tiled with olive and puke-colored linoleum and dominated by a hanging sculpture that resembles a pair of gaping diabetic ulcers. In a corner of this space, designer Charles Richtfort has shoved a wall of featureless powder blue flats, inexplicably smudged on either end with darker blue paint (as though the Jolly Blue Giant had tried to pick them up and left greasy fingerprints). In front of this wall is a black platform, not much wider than a sidewalk, cluttered with more mismatched furniture than any cast should ever have to trip over in one evening. Rather than evoking the 19th-century study of Lord Byron's daughter Augusta Ada, the set suggests the trailer home of an unsuccessful flea market dealer.

Richtfort's rank amateurism is far surpassed by that of director Dejan Avramovich, whose eight-person cast, when not pulling big faces or playing up the discomfort of their costumes, spend most of this two-hour affair standing self-consciously in a straight line or in a clump. Linney's flimsy script doesn't provide much potential for greatness--Ada summons the ghost of her dead father, the quintessential Romantic poet, only to engage him in endless question-and-answer sessions about his debauched life and in melodramatic reenactments of its pivotal moments. Avramovich neither lampoons nor indulges Linney's hokeyness, but ignores it, giving his production a detached, indifferent air, completely at odds with the passion of Byron's work and life.

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