Cut to the Chase | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Cut to the Chase

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CUT TO THE CHASE, Artistic Home, at the Cornelia Arts Building. This collection of eight one-acts has a self-consciously conservatorial feel, which is no accident--as a showcase for students of the Artistic Home's training program, these plays have been chosen specifically because they have condensed arcs and need minimal staging. The inevitable downside is that a faint incoherence and unbelievability plagues both the big-name and the unknown works. Not everyone is up to the challenge of these broad-stroke, fast-forward drills, though there's enough talent on display to make for an interesting two hours.

The best material is by the best-known playwrights, Harold Pinter and Jeffrey Sweet, and the casts of Victoria Station (Philip Winston and Paul Moulton) and Cover (Mark Egmon, Dana Marini, and Tasha Anne James) are the most accomplished performers and are given the sharpest direction (Jeremy Sklar and Rob Schaefer, respectively). The clumsier, cliche-riddled pieces by B-listers Howard Korder and David Howard are passably navigated and the remaining plays, all "world premieres," are a mixed bag. Moulton's Change is pretty awful, partially redeemed by actor Janna Walson; ditto for Jeff Christian's Cruise Control and actor Anthony Verville. Mike Speller's Slow Traffic * Stay Right is a pleasant but derivative romantic monologue that seems perfectly charming in Jason Ahlstrom's unassuming hands. And Diana Boos and George Dickson do hilarious work in Sadie and Bibb, despite the overlong, telegraphed finish that mars Caren Skibell's otherwise engaging domestic vignette.

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