Dreams of Desire: Classic Short Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Dreams of Desire: Classic Short Stories

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Dreams of Desire: Classic Short Stories, Greasy Joan & Company, at Live Bait Theater. Afterward, my wife called this collection of three staged short stories boring. That seemed harsh. I mean, sure, I'd been less than riveted by the first piece, "Eyes of a Blue Dog." Gabriel Garcia Marquez's tale of lovers who meet only in dreams gains nothing from director Julieanne Ehre's dancey retelling, except insofar as it provides an opportunity to watch two gorgeous young actors move. When and if I wanted to understand what was happening, I found I was better off listening with my eyes closed.

But Ehre's rendition of Shirley Jackson's ghostly "The Lovely House" speaks more successfully to all the senses. It offers some clever visual as well as aural images, like one in which dinner guests sit still around a nonexistent table while we hear the clatter of silverware and feel their discomfort. Lighting designer Jenna McDanold nicely simulates a downpour, and there are more gorgeous young actors to watch. The final story, Virginia Woolf's "Together and Apart," features a sort of stationary pas de deux that effectively evokes the humor and pathos of two reticent people negotiating a social occasion.

And yet not even the best elements of Ehre's production are anything more than self-evident. The competence and wit in these physicalized narratives never show us anything that couldn't be discerned through a moderately serious reading. Which is why, in the end, it's not too harsh to call them boring.

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