Facing Angela | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Facing Angela


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FACING ANGELA, Roundelay Theatre Company, at Raven Theatre. Cosmetic surgery that might once have seemed outlandish is now nearly mundane: consider the recent television news story on women who have their feet cut down in order to squeeze them, Cinderella-like, into tiny stiletto heels. As a result of such acceptance, it can be a challenge for writers to get beneath the surface (pun intended) of our obsessive need to resculpt our corporeal selves.

Playwright Scott T. Barsotti taps into a woman's crippling self-loathing in Facing Angela, the inaugural production of Roundelay Theatre Company. Under Robert Gander's no-frills direction, this play about a married couple (Josh Bywater and Shelby Mattingly) provides a wistful, intelligent meditation on the demons that drive women--and an increasing number of men--to go under the knife. As Angela says, such folks "want the opposite sex to think they're beautiful and the same sex to shiver when they walk into the room."

The script's greatest flaw is that there are few dimensions to Angela's character beyond her overwhelming depression about what she assures us were her preprocedure dumpy looks. Barsotti deftly blends passages of dialogue with monologues, but the latter tend to be delivered to undefined other characters, which distances us from the couple's sad, desperate battle of wills. What keeps this one-hour show humming is Barsotti's respectful exploration of his characters' choices no matter how cartoonish they may seem.

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