Free Will & Wanton Lust | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Free Will & Wanton Lust


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Free Will & Wanton Lust, A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company, at the Cornservatory. New York playwright Nicky Silver is known for placing unlikable characters in twisted, absurdly funny situations, and this 1996 play is no exception. It also touches on Silver's pet themes: sex (often graphically described), beauty, control of self and others, and the perversities of love.

It begins as a farce. Claire (the adept Tina Haglund) is a wealthy, married, self-involved fortysomething having an affair with a supposedly hunky 24-year-old artist (a dull, unattractive Jason Borkowski). Their lovemaking is interrupted by Claire's 15-year-old daughter, Amy (a fresh Becca Kotler), who announces she's pregnant and starts gulping down vodka. Claire ignores her. "Don't you care about me?" Amy asks. Claire answers blandly, "Do you want honesty or support?" The first act is devoted to this kind of cutting repartee, which only gets sharper when Claire's favorite child--the fragile Philip (Danny Dolan)--returns unexpectedly from England with his nerdy fiancee (Chelsey Peterson, who plays her character purely for laughs).

On opening night the cast never jelled; as directed by Richard Hesler, they rarely played off one another, which deadened the pace. But in the second act--which is darker, more disturbing, and less dependent on precise timing--both Haglund and Dolan came into their own with a pair of stunning monologues describing their inner demons. The play doesn't end there, but it's certainly the climax.

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