Flung | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Flung, American Theater Company. The Great American Obsession with Dad gets a workout in Lisa Dillman's skillfully crafted new play, now receiving its world premiere under the crisp direction of Susan Nussbaum. Little is revelatory in this piece about estranged siblings who gather to spread the ashes of their, er, challenging father, but Dillman's sharp one-liners and the ensemble's smooth performances make this an enjoyable production.

Flinty Meryl gets the lion's share of the zingers, and Cheryl Graeff makes the most of them--though Dillman's script is sometimes too self-conscious (talking about the incipient end of her seven-year marriage, Meryl notes with eye-rolling self-deprecation, "It's so Passages, right?"). Janelle Snow is impressive as the pregnant Win, a woman whose patience is stretched almost as far as her belly, and Maureen Gallagher is affecting as rueful stepmom Ginny. Carrie Layne has the unenviable task of playing the airhead youngest sis, Jade, and her performance does grate at points, but in fairness the playwright hasn't fleshed this character out.

Dillman's dark hints of incest, which are never resolved, feel unnecessary. Her thesis--that children seldom really know their parents and that one sibling's relationship with the paterfamilias can be quite different from another's--is dramatic enough without adding the teasing (and rather cheap) "did he or didn't he?" subtext.

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