Cry Havoc | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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CRY HAVOC, Bailiwick Repertory. "Love always means eventual pain," comments one character in Tom Coasch's troubling exploration of colonialist aftershocks in Egypt. "And pain is the evidence of love." But Coasch's observations don't ring true in the play, as a mincing British translator and a semicloseted Egyptian reactionary attempt to recover in a decrepit Cairo apartment from a politically motivated beating. Despite some halfhearted kissing and cuddling, the pair's attraction to each other ultimately comes across as academic, not as the fatalistic Byronic relationship Coasch hints at early on.

Pain is inextricably tied to revenge, however: sense and decorum go out the window once a pistol is introduced in the second act. This crude bait and switch allows one character to undergo a radical transformation as Coasch turns to examining the disconnect between Western and Islamic mind-sets. Considering how shamelessly the script relies on gross generalities, director P. Marston Sullivan takes the right tack by fleshing out as many details as possible. Jared Moore's terrific lighting eases the script's blunt shifts by subtly alternating between warm and cool hues, and Raymond Kurut takes pains to reveal the wounded heart beneath the Egyptian's otherwise one-note facade. Even gratuitous full-frontal nudity--no real shocker considering the venue--is some relief: unlike the rest of the obnoxiously talky script, it actually comes to a point.

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