Christmas on Mars | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Christmas on Mars

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Christmas on Mars, Great Beast Theater, at the Lunar Cabaret. Harry Kondoleon's absurdist comedy throws four people into the same condo, where the promise of a new baby brings hope of healing old wounds. Can relationships blossom from the compost of four battling agendas?

We're thrown headlong into the furious resentment between pregnant Audrey (Michelle Power) and the mother who abandoned her (Jennifer Biddle). Also apparent from the outset is the calculated nature of Audrey's relationship with fiance Bruno (Ryan C. LaFleur), an aging model. While her interest seems to stem from his ability to father good-looking children, he seems singularly motivated by the wish to shed his obsessively smitten neurotic roommate (Charles Christensen). Bruno and Audrey agree to let mom move in because she's the only one who can cover the rent. Then the roommate weasels into the picture, and they all live together in a big steamy pile of dysfunction.

With nothing but a black box and minimal props, this production must depend on the script and its actors. Kondoleon doesn't make things easy. His garrulous characters divulge huge chunks of their psyches at the slightest provocation, often articulating at a level that seems beyond their intellectual means. Some actors are more successful than others at making these speeches believable. Biddle gives by far the richest performance, but Christensen also deserves credit for handling the sheer volume of his dialogue with authenticity and humor. He ought to be paid by the word.

--Kim Wilson

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