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. Few of the eight offerings in this short-play showcase will outlast their initial welcome. It's a silly to offbeat to surreal program in which quirkiness is sometimes its own reward, as in Peter DeFaria's wry staging of Jeremy Menekseoglu's Far From Man, a one-joke sketch about a con artist exploiting a Sasquatch legend. Equally wacky, Bilal Dardai's Disconnect inflicts a fitting fate on a clueless telemarketer. Strategically weird encounters fuel two other pieces that are less successful. In Steve Kopka's too cute Minuteman a superhero who sees ten seconds into the future becomes sidekick to a superheroine who can instantly create vacuums, and in John Weagly's talky, overlong King Kong Doesn't Speak a recluse living on an el track offers deliverance to a suicidal loser.

The more successful scripts rely on dissonant characterizations easily exploited by apprentice actors. Paul Moulton's March contrasts an amoral assassin with a missionary whose prayers fall on deaf ears. In Stephanie K. McCanles's Audition--the most irritating work, albeit an intriguing one--a passive-aggressive casting director triggers a powerful childhood memory in a hopeful actress he abuses. Tim Miller's very raw 8-Point assembles dysfunctional druggies in a properly pointless caper. And the amusing Not Even a Train, written by Kevin Armold and Gus Buktenica and directed by Patrick Thornton, delivers Noel Coward-like complications: a romance is complicated by the ghost of a former girlfriend. Nothing here soars, but at least no one disgraces the stage.

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