Dutch Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Dutch Love, Bailiwick Repertory. Everything about this production smacks of a television sitcom. Director Kelli Strickland apparently encouraged her actors to mug and shrug for full comic effect. And Claudia Allen's script brims with short scenes ending with a telegraphed punch line or easy visual joke, such as someone pulling a quilt over his or her head (considered so hilarious that we see it more than once).

The plot is as contrived as any on the idiot box. Hal and Leonora have been married for decades, though he's gay and has had many affairs. Their friendly dynamic changes when she meets Dutch, a woman who helps her discover passion. Hal worries that his wife will leave him while she blithely looks to him and his ex-lover for dating advice. Meanwhile the couple's grown daughter, Cass, comes out and announces she's in love too.

Dutch Love tries to be subversive and original, revolving around a new form of family, but it was written nearly a decade ago and is no longer fresh. The men are caricatured lonely queens, Dutch is a butch stereotype, and Cass and Leonora are just desperate. Ultimately these characters will put up with any crap or settle for any partner if it saves them from dating. A laugh track might have encouraged more chuckles--but if I'd had a remote, I would have changed the channel.

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