Fellow Travellers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Fellow Travellers

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Local playwright Margaret Lewis offers no easy solutions to the thorny ethical dilemmas in her new script, about two German art students in the 1930s struggling in the face of Nazi censorship and persecution. Max is a neoclassical landscape painter inadvertently in accord with Nazi ideals, and so his star is on the rise despite his contempt for Hitler. But to stay on track he must condemn his best friend, Karl, as a "degenerate" radical modernist and thus an enemy of the state. Lewis intercuts this story with scenes of Karl as a successful but paranoid artist in Los Angeles in 1973 trying to maintain an uneasy friendship with his East German housekeeper, whose past is also troubled. Although the LA scenes lack urgency and complexity, the story set in Germany is rich and satisfying, and director David M. Schmitz teases out a compelling human drama without compromising the political scope of the script. Through 4/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-883-8830, $18-$22, industry show Thu 3/2.

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