Crowtown | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
comment

CROWTOWN, Curious Theatre Branch. As playwright Beau O'Reilly himself admits in a program note, his newest play returns to themes and approaches explored again and again by the folks at the Curious Theatre Branch over ten years: myths, magic, nonlinear or eccentric storytelling, the tightness of tribes, and the inevitable violence that erupts when they come into contact with other clans with different worldviews.

But rarely have these themes been explored as completely as they are in O'Reilly's weird and twisty Crowtown--maybe because, for once, his work feels finished. There are no odd holes in the plot or patches of murky storytelling to indicate, as in earlier Curious productions, that pressing deadlines forced all concerned to induce labor before gestation was complete. Here O'Reilly has clearly given himself world enough and time to let his story unfold before he tossed it squirming onto the stage.

The result is that his loopy, biblical style of storytelling feels absolutely integral to the tale, about an ever-randy hillbilly patriarch, appropriately named Papa Bone, who sires five boys. And O'Reilly's characters have never felt more real or fully developed. No matter how slowly the Crowtown story unfolds--and there are sections that pass at the snail's pace of a court ritual in a Kurosawa film--we're utterly absorbed by what's happening onstage. --Jack Helbig

Add a comment