Hanging Fire | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Claudia Allen's new play, directed by Sandy Shinner, is sweet, sentimental, often funny, and infused with joy: Allen has a gift for creating warm characters and capturing day-to-day intimacies. The fine ensemble helps her along, making sure that this story about the changing relationship between two sisters never flattens into stereotype. Rachel Stephens in particular glows as the sister who remains feisty even after a stroke leaves her aphasic. Even so, by the second act there's not much to hold our attention, even though Allen throws a lot into the narrative as it meanders along--alcoholism, domestic violence, the idea that you need to fall to fly. But these themes, hit hard, seem like desperation instead of plot points and never really jell into anything that resonates. 11/17-12/19: Tue-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 PM. Wed 12/1, 2 PM only. No show Thu 11/25 or Tue 11/30. Victory Gardens Theater, first-floor main stage, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 773-871-0682). $28-$40.

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