Dark Rapture | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Dark Rapture

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DARK RAPTURE, Strawdog Theatre Company. Strawdog is billing Eric Overmeyer's comedy as an homage to film noir. But it's an antinoir if anything. It may be set in sultry Mexico, California, New Orleans, and Key West, but that's where the humidity ends: where the best of noirs are taut and suspenseful, this work is meandering and uninvolving, glib instead of witty, overwrought instead of complex. Call it "The Postman Rings Once Too Often" or "The Big Snooze."

The play follows the exploits of Ray Gaines, a fledgling screenwriter who uses a massive conflagration as an opportunity to steal his adulterous wife Julia's laundered millions and start a new life. And the normally witty and cerebral Overmeyer, treading perilously close to Keith Reddin territory, supplies the requisite plot twists and wacky characters: a slimy lounge singer, a Cuban operative who may have been involved in the Kennedy assassination, crooked film producers, self-righteous Armenian hoods. But missing are emotion and action--elements so basic to the genre one wonders if Overmeyer left them out intentionally, creating a static, digressive satire that would undercut our expectations of noir by alienating rather than engaging us.

Whatever the playwright's motives, disappointment is the result. Though Richard Shavzin's cast, led by the always compelling Marty Higginbotham and Elizabeth Laidlaw as Ray and Julia, is exceedingly strong, their talents are largely wasted in an effort that's not particularly dark and hardly ever rapturous. --Adam Langer

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