Enter the Night | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Enter the Night, Will Act for Food, at Stage Left Theatre. This is one of the more obscure pieces by a playwright known for her avant-garde work. Maria Irene Fornes bases one important revelation here, for instance, on a scene from D.W. Griffith's 1919 film Broken Blossoms.

Enter the Night is nevertheless intriguing, exploring the affectionate reunion of three friends and their dealings with death, love, gender roles, and sexuality. Paula (Tuuli Gress) is a farmer avoiding thoughts of her impending death, Tressa (Samantha Gleisten) a nurse who cares for the dying, and Jack (Daniel Preble) an assistant stage manager convinced he gave his dead lover AIDS even though he himself is not HIV-positive. The characters' thinking is often quirky--Paula mistakenly believes she's destroyed Jack's car, Tressa likes to think of herself as an Asian man--and eventually they become entangled in the fantasies and harsh realities of one another's lives.

Fornes is adept at stripping her characters naked, but the actors aren't always up to the task. Gleisten and Preble both need stronger direction from Daniel Shea when it comes to Tressa's and Jack's more bizarre behavior, such as the reenactment of the Broken Blossoms scene. But all three infuse their parts with a warmth that makes Enter the Night seem an unexpectedly intimate conversation with strangers.

--Jennifer Vanasco

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