Deceptions | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Rough House, at the Famous Door Theatre Company.

The Rough House is known primarily as a school for stage combat, but the company's debut production is not just a fast and silly romp for its students--indeed, there's only one sword fight, and it's a playful scuffle. Taniya Hossain's lighter-than-air contemporary script is a romantic fable in the Renaissance mode, complete with petty jealousies, extravagant declarations, mistaken identities, foolish lovers of both high and low birth, dissertations on true love both lofty and bawdy (the latter refreshingly mild), and misdelivered letters (only one, actually, but it passes through no less than six hands). It all culminates in a magnificent amor vincit omnia finale after--what else?--a chase through the woods.

Though Deceptions does showcase the Rough House curriculum (which includes classes in movement and period dance as well as martial skills), it also reflects a detailed understanding of and an easy familiarity with the language and styles of the period. The generic plot is tastefully embellished with plenty of repartee no less sparkling than that of many Shakespeare wannabes, and the eight cast members display an affectionate respect for their archetypal characters.

Deceptions inaugurates the Rough House's "Duels After Dark" series, which promises other originally crafted quasi-Renaissance exercises. Certainly this production, running barely an hour, has enough ingenuous charm to qualify as a final summery frolic before other companies launch a lugubrious winter of somber, scholarly drama.

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