For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls

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FOR WHOM THE SOUTHERN BELLE TOLLS, Live Bait Theater. Christopher Durang's parody of The Glass Menagerie is a hoot. Written after a lengthy writer's block, from 1988 to 1993, this witty, wild, vicious deconstruction of Williams's beautiful but done-to-death classic is as wickedly funny as any of Durang's earlier, longer, better-known works. At least it is on the page.

But in this Live Bait production, it just dies. Durang's take on the tragic Laura, a neurasthenic character named Larry, is played by Dan Wachtel in an over-the-top manner reminiscent of the most hastily assembled Three Stooges films. And the other actors, no matter how funny in brief flashes, are unable to sustain the pace and timing to mine Durang's humor.

Director Rebecca Corry doesn't have a clue how to set the tone for a parody, which should be so similar in look and feel to its target that we sometimes believe, if only for a moment, that we've wandered into the real thing. But I was never convinced that Corry (best known to me as the pregnant maid of honor in Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding) knew The Glass Menagerie well enough to understand what the hell Durang was joking about.

--Jack Helbig

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