Disciple | Miscellany | Chicago Reader

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Disciple, Walkabout Theater Company, at TimeLine Theatre Company. John Lisbon Wood is an award-winning playwright. Unfortunately, with this play he wrote someone else's award-winning work, namely Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune. Wood gives the same setup--two lonely losers come together for one night and tiptoe toward love--a little twist. But it's hardly even suggested until the second scene, almost as if he'd finished one play and begun another.

Performers Larry Neumann Jr. and Sandy Borglum make the production worth seeing, however. Skilled off-Loop veterans married to each other, they make the budding romance between their characters a beautiful thing to watch. Neumann uses his considerable gift for understatement to defeat the play's tendency toward melodrama. Borglum suggests Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba with her marvelous woman-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown tremulousness. But she's stuck with the play's worst lines ("Listen to my heart. It's saying 'Sam is a good person, Sam is a good person'") and a psychological problem that's foreshadowed but never appears. The work of director Gary Zabinski is either transparent or absent.

Perhaps next time Neumann and Borglum can find a play worthy of their talents.

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