F-64 | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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F-64, Bailiwick Repertory. With sexual harassment on campus a hot topic these days, one might hope for some new insight into the subject from Christina de Lancie's F-64, receiving its world premiere under the direction of its author and David Zak. The title is photographic jargon for an aperture setting that allows one to keep both foreground and background in focus--a metaphor for the growing understanding the play's artist heroine, Nicola Jesuran, develops of herself and her marriage when her hypocritical teacher husband is caught up in a sex scandal with a student. But depth of intellectual field is sadly lacking in de Lancie's first effort for the stage. A visual artist, she strews about references to image manipulation and deconstructionism in an attempt to give Nicola's search for truth some larger meaning; but at heart this is just another mawkish melodrama about manipulative men and wronged women boozing it up in academe, and de Lancie's efforts to gussy it up with theoretical symbolism only deprive it of what trashy entertainment value it might have had.

Amy Galper and David Gee as Nicola and her husband struggle valiantly with thanklessly whiny roles, while Tonya Young as the student and Jeannette Wiggins as the wife of a man wrongly accused of rape are as monotonous as their dialogue. Paul Carlin and Amelia Barrett deftly handle their supporting parts as teachers locked in rivalry for an important grant; their characterizations bring refreshing wit and texture to an otherwise murky work.

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